A key Hawaii official in the dispute over Barack Obama's birth certificate – who lifted state restrictions to allow the White House to present the document to the public – has died in a plane crash.
Loretta Fuddy, the state health department director, was the only fatality among nine people aboard a Cessna Grand Caravan that went down at about 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday while heading to Honolulu.
Richard Schuman, president of Makani Kai Air, told NBC that the other eight people aboard were rescued from the site of the water crash.
KITV-TV in Honolulu reported Fuddy had been on health department business. Keith Yamamoto, the department's deputy director, also was aboard and survived.
Makani Kai officials said it was was the company's first fatality.
WND has reported since before the 2008 election on the dispute over Obama's birth documentation.
Fuddy was appointed health director by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who issued a statement in response to her death.
"Our hearts are broken," he said, according to USA Today. "Loretta was deeply loved and respected. She was selfless, utterly dedicated and committed to her colleagues in the Department of Health and to the people of Hawaii. Her knowledge was vast; her counsel and advice always given from her heart as much as from her storehouse of experience."
Recently she had been working on the state's Obamacare website.
When he took office in 2010, Abercrombie, who claimed to have had a relationship with Obama's parents in Hawaii as a fellow student, vowed to settle the birth certificate dispute once and for all. He finally gave up, however, insisting he didn't have the necessary legal authority.
Abercrombie told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser regarding Obama's birth documentation: "It actually exists in the archives, written down." The London Daily Mail reported, however, Abercrombie "suggested that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health."
Later, Obama asked for copies of the document, and under Fuddy, the state instantly waived a long-claimed ban on reproducing long-form birth certificates. On Fuddy's instructions, copies were produced and delivered to Judith Corley, a private attorney for Obama.
Fuddy had written to Obama: "We hope that issuing you these copies of your original Certificate of Live Birth will end the numerous inquiries received by the Hawaii Department of Health to produce this document."
Immediately after the delivered copy was posted on the White House website, however, numerous computer graphics and software experts declared it fraudulent.
The birth certificate dispute centers on the constitutional requirement that a president be a "natural-born citizen." Some argue that even if Obama was born in Hawaii, he was does not qualify because his father was a Kenyan citizen.
Still a live issue
The one official law enforcement investigation into the issue, conducted on the orders of Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, concluded the document posted by the White House is a forgery.
Arpaio has said the investigation is ongoing and more evidence has been discovered to bolster his team's conclusion.
WND reported Mike Zullo, the lead investigator for Arpaio's Cold Case Posse in Arizona, has contributed evidence to a court case pending before the Alabama Supreme Court.
He has testified that the White House computer image of Obama's birth certificate contains anomalies that are unexplainable unless the document had been fabricated piecemeal by human intervention, rather than being copied from a genuine paper document.
"Mr. Obama has in fact not offered any verifiable authoritative document of any legal significance or possessing any evidentiary value as to the origins of his purported birth narrative or location of the birth event," he explained. "One of our most serious concerns is that the White House document appears to have been fabricated piecemeal on a computer, constructed by drawing together digitized data from several unknown sources."
Zullo also has noted that the governor of Hawaii was unable to produce an original birth document for Obama, and it should have been easy to find.
See some of Zullo's evidence:
More recently, Grace Vuoto of the World Tribune reported that among the experts challenging the birth certificate is certified document analyst Reed Hayes, who has served as an expert for Perkins Coie, the law firm that has been defending Obama in eligibility cases.
"We have obtained an affidavit from a certified document analyzer, Reed Hayes, that states the document is a 100 percent forgery, no doubt about it," Zullo told the World Tribune.
"Mr. Obama's operatives cannot discredit [Hayes]," the investigator told the news outlet. "Mr. Hayes has been used as the firm's reliable expert. The very firm the president is using to defend him on the birth certificate case has used Mr. Hayes in their cases."
The Tribune reported Hayes agreed to take a look at the documentation and called almost immediately.
"There is something wrong with this," Hayes said.
Hayes produced a 40-page report in which he says "based on my observations and findings, it is clear that the Certificate of Live Birth I examined is not a scan of an original paper birth certificate, but a digitally manufactured document created by utilizing material from various sources."
"In over 20 years of examining documentation of various types, I have never seen a document that is so seriously questionable in so many respects. In my opinion, the birth certificate is entirely fabricated," he says in the report.
Investigator Douglas J. Hagmann of the Northeast Intelligence Network reported this month that in October an affidavit was filed in a court case, under seal, that purportedly identifies the creator of the Obama birth certificate.
He said Douglas Vogt, an author and the owner and operator of a scanning business who also has an accounting background, invested over two years in an investigation of the authenticity of document.
Vogt, along with veteran typesetter Paul Ivey, conducted "exhaustive research of the document provided to the White House Press Corps on April 27, 2011 – not the online PDF, a critical distinction that must be understood," Hagmann said.
"Using their combined experience of 80 years in this realm, they conducted extensive examinations of the 'copy' that was used as the basis for the PDF document. They acquired the same type of equipment that was used back in the late 1950s and early 1960s in an attempt to recreate the document presented as an 'authenticated copy' proving the legitimacy of Barack Obama. Instead, they found 20 points of forgery on that document and detail each point of forgery in the affidavit," wrote Hagmann.
"Even more interesting, Mr. Vogt claims to have identified the 'signature' of the perpetrator, or the woman who created the forged document, hidden within the document itself. Her identity, in addition to the identity of other conspirators and their precise methods are contained in a sealed document supplementing the public affidavit."
Grounds for impeachment
Last month, WND columnist Christopher Monckton wrote that the controversy he calls "Hawaiigate" should be "the central ground of impeachment."
"First, the dishonesty is shameless and in your face. Mr Obama's advisers, once they realized the 'birth certificate' was as bogus as a $3 bill, knew that if they simply went on pretending that $3 bills are legal tender the hard-left-dominated news media would carefully and continuously look the other way, pausing occasionally to sneer at anyone who pointed out that, in this constitutionally crucial respect, the 'president' has no clothes," Monckton wrote.
"Secondly, not one of the numerous agencies of state, as well as federal government, whose duty was and is to investigate the Mickey-Mouse 'birth certificate' has bothered even to respond to the thousands of requests for investigation put forward by U.S. citizens."
He said that in Hawaii last year, he watched "as a senior former state senator called the police and, when they came, handed over to them compelling evidence that the 'birth certificate' had been forged."
"The police, correctly, passed the file to the state's attorney general, a 'Democrat,' who did nothing about it," he said.
"In Washington, D.C., I watched as a concerned citizen from Texas telephoned the FBI and reported the 'birth certificate' as being a forgery. They said they would send two agents to see him within the hour. No one came."
One of the highest profile skeptics has been billionaire Donald Trump.
Trump said he can't be certain that Obama is eligible to be president, and he pointedly noted that a reporter who was poking fun at the issue admitted he can't either.
Trump repeatedly has insisted Obama has not documented his eligibility. At one point, he offered $5 million to the charity or charities of Obama's choice if he would release his passport records and authorize the colleges he attended to release his applications and other records.
Trump argues that those documents would show whether or not Obama ever accepted scholarship or other aid as a foreign student, which could preclude him from being a "natural-born citizen."
Trump's conversation with ABC's Jonathan Karl started with Karl noting that Trump took on the "not serious" issue of eligibility.
"Why does that make me not serious?" Trump demanded. "I think that resonated with a lot of people."
Karl replied: "You don't still question he was born in the United States, do you?"
"I have no idea," Trump said. "I don't know. Was there a birth certificate? You tell me. You know some people say that was not his birth certificate. I'm saying I don't know. Nobody knows, and you don't know either. Jonathan you're a smart guy, and you don't know."
When Karl admitted he was "pretty sure," Trump jumped on the statement.
"You just said you're pretty sure … you have to be 100 percent sure," he said. "Jonathan, you said you're pretty convinced, so let's just see what happens over time."