Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
News – first reported by WND – that for the first time a law enforcement official is investigating the document Obama presented as proof of his birthplace has caught fire in the wider press, prompting questions as to whether this effort will get to the bottom of the story.
As WND reported, Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio responded to concerns from tea-party activists in his county by forming a volunteer posse to investigate whether the purported Hawaiian birth certificate Obama released to the public on April 27 is a forgery.
Arpaio says that since WND ran its story, he has been inundated with media inquiries, including invitations to appear on national TV news programs.
Left-leaning political blogs like Salon, Slate, Mother Jones and Think Progress have also publicized the story, though harshly critical of the sheriff’s actions.
“This investigation does not involve politics,” Arpaio told WND. “I listen to all the residents of Maricopa County who come to my office with complaints, regardless what their politics are.”
The posse Arpaio has formed will report back to the sheriff, who will then decide whether or not to act on its findings.
“They’re looking into it to see if there is any smoke there,” Arpaio told KTVK-TV. “Once they’re done, I’ll look at it and see if there’s any jurisdiction that I have, as a county sheriff. If I feel there isn’t, maybe I’ll give it to other authorities in the state.”
The station’s reporter asked Arpaio if he believes the president’s birth certificate is fraudulent.
“I don’t know because I haven’t looked at it,” Arpaio said. “I’m not going to spend hours and hours looking at volumes of information. Give it to them, they’re not being paid, they’re doing it for nothing.”
The Cold Case Posse consists of volunteers with professional experience in conducting investigations, including individuals chosen because of their professional backgrounds in law enforcement, as well as lawyers who have participated in criminal or civil cases and individuals with specialized skills in fields ranging from accounting to conducting criminal forensic examinations.
Sources within the sheriff’s office explained to WND that the Cold Case Posse has been constituted as a 501(c)3 organization – separately organized within the 3,000-member volunteer posse – enabling people from around the country to contribute to its mission.
As WND reported, Arpaio is responding to a complaint brought to his office by representatives of the Surprise Tea Party in Surprise, Ariz., who have expressed in writing their concerns that the voting rights of Maricopa County residents in the 2012 presidential election could be compromised if Obama were to use a forged birth certificate to establish his eligibility under Article 2, Section 1, of the Constitution.
“The Cold Case Posse is a good place to put this investigation,” Arpaio said. “The individuals on this posse have been sworn in by me and I have granted them the authority required to conduct this investigation.”
Arpaio explained to WND that in the final analysis, all decisions stop with him.
“I will have the ultimate authority to decide,” he emphasized. “I gave the Cold Case Posse the authority to investigate, but the results of their investigation ultimately come to me and I will then decide how best to proceed from there.”
He also stressed that the Cold Case Posse he authorized to investigate the Surprise Tea Party allegations regarding the Obama birth certificate will not cost the taxpayers of Maricopa County anything.
None of the Cold Case Posse members assigned the Obama investigation will receive any personal compensation, and all expenses incurred in their investigation will have to be derived from funds raised through contributions from the public received by the Cold Case Posse 501(c)3 organization.
From left to right, WND’s Jerome Corsi, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Surprise, Ariz., tea-party leaders Brian and Denise Reilly
Brian Reilly, a spokesman for the Surprise Tea Party, told WND he is pleased with Sheriff Arpaio’s decision to assign the investigation to the Cold Case Posse and he and the other members of the Surprise Tea Party are looking forward to cooperating with the sheriff’s investigation.
“I believe Sheriff Arpaio and his Cold Case Posse will be thorough and complete in their investigation,” Reilly said.
Reilly said that he and the other members of the Surprise Tea Party are encouraged that the Cold Case Posse assigned by Arpaio to conduct the investigation into the authenticity of the Obama birth certificate are qualified by their career backgrounds to conduct a serious investigation.
“I am confident that this investigation will be professional and unbiased,” Reilly said, “and I am certain that the highly distinguished Cold Case Posse appointed by Sheriff Arpaio will seek to discover the truth in the matter.”
The identities of the five individuals assigned to the Cold Case Posse investigation of the Obama birth certificate are being withheld from the public, in order to protect the individuals involved from both public reaction and from questions that are certain to arise from the media.
According to Arpaio’s official website, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office holds recruitment meetings for the volunteer posse program once a month. The 3,000 posse volunteers selected by the Maricopa County sheriff’s office train and participate in a wide variety of missions, including search and rescue, crime prevention, civic functions, disaster relief and emergency support.
Those wishing to contribute to the 501(c)3 supporting the Cold Case Posse investigation of the Obama birth certificate are asked to send contributions addressed to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office at: MCSO Cold Case Posse, P.O. Box 74374, Phoenix, Ariz., 85087.