The chief of Hawaii’s Department of Health twice has issued statements trying to convince doubters that President Obama was born in the state, and now those words may backfire if a new legal challenge comes to fruition.
Leo Donofrio, who brought one of the first legal challenges to Obama’s eligibility to be president and unsuccessfully tried to get the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved at the time of the election, is reporting on his website that Hawaiian state law requires “information collected and maintained for the purpose of making information available to the general public” be released.
In July, the state’s director of health, Chiyome Fukino, issued a statement on the subject of Obama’s birth:
“I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawai‘i and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago.”
Last year, at the time of the election, she stated:
“There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama’s official birth certificate. State law (Hawaii Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record.
“Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai‘i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.
“No state official, including Governor Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the State of Hawaii.”
While her statements have been picked to pieces and, in fact, leave out a number of key issues, they now are being used as a reason for a demand that “information collected and maintained” be made public.
On his blog, Donofrio explained that one of his contacts, identified as “TerriK,” had asked for all of the state information “collected and maintained” for the purposes of preparing Fukino’s public statements.
Under state law, he said, “such information must be released.”
“TerriK was interested in knowing how Director Fukino came to the conclusion that the president was a natural born citizen. She was familiar with Section 92F-12(15) which demands that all information collected and maintained for the purposes of making such a public statement be made public. She was denied that information despite the clear wording in the statute. Furthermore, the case law from Hawaii clearly demands production of the records TerriK requested,” he said.
Donofrio said work is under way to press the demand.
“I will provide legal research and relevant examples of official correspondence in my follow up report and press release at this blog. TerriK has previously provided details of her investigation and correspondence with the state of Hawaii in comments to this and other blogs. She has also authorized me to speak publicly about her case and to provide the public with all relevant correspondence,” he said.
Under the state’s law addressing records. exceptions are made for government records that would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Also exempted are various records regarding prosecutions and certain court papers.
But it explains that disclosure “shall not constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal private if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interests of the individual.”
Department spokesman Janice Okubo told WND the laws have been interpreted to leave birth documentation exempted from public disclosure.
But she admitted the law allows a challenge to such decisions in the courts.
In fact, the law states, “A person aggrieved by a denial of access to a government record may bring an action against the agency at any time within two years after the agency denial to compel disclosure. … The circuit court may examine the government record at issue, in camera, to assist in determining whether it, or any part of it, may be withheld.”
WND also has reported on plans by Hawaii state Sen. Will Espero, a Democrat, to pursue legislation through which the state’s lawmakers would force the public disclosure of all Obama’s birth documents held by the Hawaii Department of Health, including Obama’s long-form original birth certificate.
Espero told WND at the time his bill is aimed at “giving citizens access to birth records” under a standard of government transparency which would permit journalists to request in writing the public disclosure of vital birth records, including long-form birth certificates of all persons born in Hawaii.
“My decision to file the legislation was primarily a result of the fuss over President Obama’s birth records and the lingering questions,” Espero said.
Espero told WND that he believes President Obama was born in Hawaii.
“My motivation is strictly to promote transparency,” he said. “When I found out that Hawaii birth records were not available to the public my first thought was, ‘Why wouldn’t they be available to the public?’ “As far as I am concerned, records regarding whether a person was born here or not should be in the public domain.”
Donofrio said he would issue a full statement and make available the complete history of correspondence with the Hawaii agency on his blog.
“Any legal assistance provided by me to TerriK will be pro bono. I will seek to be admitted pro hac vice in Hawaii for purposes of filing the case and conducting the trial. If such admission is not forthcoming, other counsel may be retained or TerriK may represent herself pro se. In any case, I will be drafting the pleadings. The only issue will be related to who files them and conducts the trial de novo,” he said.
He said correspondence already has confirmed “President Obama’s vital records have been amended.”
But he said this case already has circumvented the issue that has been the downfall of many of the court cases challenging Obama’s eligibility: “standing.”
“The [state] manual states: ‘Any person’ may make a request for government records under part II, the Freedom of Information section of the UIPA. ‘Person’ is defined broadly to include an individual, government agencies, partnerships and any other legal entities,” he wrote.
WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen.” The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
Some of the lawsuits question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama’s American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.
Other challenges have focused on Obama’s citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.
Complicating the situation is Obama’s decision to spend sums estimated over $1 million to avoid releasing an original long-form state birth certificate that would put to rest the questions.
WND also has reported that among the documentation not yet available for Obama includes his kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, passport, medical records, files from his years as an Illinois state senator, his Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records and his adoption records.
The “certification of live birth” posted online and widely touted as “Obama’s birth certificate” does not in any way prove he was born in Hawaii, since the same “short-form” document is easily obtainable for children not born in Hawaii. The true “long-form” birth certificate – which includes information such as the name of the birth hospital and attending physician – is the only document that can prove Obama was born in Hawaii, but to date he has not permitted its release for public or press scrutiny.
Oddly, though congressional hearings were held to determine whether Sen. John McCain was constitutionally eligible to be president as a “natural born citizen,” no controlling legal authority ever sought to verify Obama’s claim to a Hawaiian birth.