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Did Hawaii governor Linda Lingle verify that Barack Obama was born there?

Various mainstream media sources have claimed that Hawaii governor Linda Lingle verified that Barack Obama was born in her state. At post time, that claim very strongly appears to be false. I've been trying to obtain a clear statement confirming that she never verified that Obama was born there from her office for over a week without success, and this post will be updated if they finally reply. I'm also asking them to contact those news sources and request a retraction.

In the meantime, here are the only three categories so far known about this issue:

1. Lingle's office sends out a boilerplate letter noting that it would be illegal for an official to divulge the contents of a birth certificate and related records. It can safely be assumed that in order to verify that Obama was born there, Lingle would have to divulge the contents of his birth certificate. So, those who claim that she verified whether he was born there are in effect accusing her of breaking their laws. A copy of that form letter that I received last month is here, and that's highly similar to the form letter included below which was received by a news source after late October 2008.

2. On the campaign trail for John McCain in September and October 2008, Lingle referenced Obama being from Hawaii. But, she only did so in a disparaging sense, pointing out that McCain had more ties to that state than Obama, that Obama never voted there, that few people in that state had heard of him, and so on. While she did say he was born there, that was only said in passing and wasn't said in response to the issues surrounding the Obama citizenship issue. It would be extremely deceptive to try to pretend that her saying he was born there in passing is equivalent to her verifiying that he was born there, but expect Obama fans to try.

3. The October 31, 2008 statement by Chiyome Fukino was written on the state of Hawaii's letterhead containing Lingle's name at the top. The statement mentioned her in passing, but only to say, "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 Hawai'i." And, the rest of that statement didn't say whether Obama was born there, it only said they had a valid certificate on file. As with the last, it would be extremely deceptive to claim that just because Lingle's name was on the same page the statement was coming from her.

This post will be updated with any new information.

Excerpts from some of the articles mentioned in the first and second are below.

8/7/09 UPDATE: I cleaned up the text above a bit. I've also added at the end of this post a FAX I sent on 8/6/09 to Russell Pang, Lingle's Chief of Media Relations. As with the three emails and two voice mails I previously left for him, he hasn't responded. I may be forced to see if Hawaii's Open Records (FOIA) procedures can be of some use to get a statement from them.

8/14/09 UPDATE: I added an additional news report from Sep. 30. As with the others, these are offhand remarks based on what Obama said and not based on her actually verifying what he said, and it would be extremely deceptive to pretend otherwise. Also, I have received no response from Hawaii.

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"Lingle tells Brokaw: no one in Hawaii knew Obama" (September 4, 2008, link)

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and spent part of his early childhood years here.

But during an interview with Tom Brokaw Thursday, Governor Linda Lingle said that doesn't mean that everyone in the state is familiar with him, or his policies.

BROKAW: You're running against Barack Obama who has real roots in Hawaii, spent his summer break there. His granny is there. It's going to be tougher for the Republicans isn't it?

LINGLE: It will be tougher. Hawaii is a small state, they are very proud of anyone from home that does well, but honestly Tom, not too many people in Hawaii had heard of Barack Obama until he ran for president. Because as you know, as he was born there, he spent a very few years in school but they are very partial to people who were born in our home state. However, Senator McCain has tremendous ties to Hawaii. His father headed Pacific Command and of course Senator McCain met his wife Cindy on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii...

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"Lingle campaigns in Granite State" (September 30, 2008, link)

"Barack Obama was born in my state and went to school there yet as a United States Senator I've never met him," Lingle said at the opening of a Republican office. "On the other hand when Senator McCain visits the state he comes and sits down with me."

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"Hawaii's governor in Greeley to refute Obama's claims of Hawaii as West" (October 15, 2008, link)

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle still came to Greeley Tuesday afternoon to talk with Weld County Republican volunteers knocking on doors around town for Sen. John McCain's presidential bid.

Lingle's visit comes a couple of weeks after McCain's opponent, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama joked with the Tribune to "Keep in mind, I'm somebody from the West first. Hawaii is about as far west as you can get."

"That's a stretch, come on," Lingle said after addressing Republican volunteers, adding that she didn't think Obama's comments were genuine. "Hawaii is a very different part of America."

Lingle added that Obama spent only a few years in Hawaii during his high school years, and that his claim of Hawaii as one of his home states is disingenuous.

Lingle said McCain is actually from the west and shares its residents' values, but she acknowledged to supporters that the presidential race will be tight in Colorado.

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"Hawaii Gov: My state is not like the West/Governor of 50th state takes issue with statements Obama made to FCN" (October 15, 2008, link)

The governor of Hawaii visited Colorado on Tuesday as part of a multistate blitzkrieg on behalf of Sen. John McCain, and said she was amused by comments Sen. Barack Obama made to Fort Collins Now two weeks ago.

In an exclusive interview, Obama said he believed he’d connect with voters in the West because he grew up in Hawaii.

“Now, keep in mind I’m somebody from the West first—Hawaii is about as far west as you can get,” he joked. “So, you know, I just connect with the sensibility of people here in Colorado.”

In her own interview Tuesday with FCN, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle said she found that amusing on more than one level—including the fact that Obama never voted in Hawaii, never owned a business there, but spent time in school there.

“Most people in Hawaii had never heard of him until he ran for president, so I was amused on that level,” she said. “Secondly, I was amused on him trying to make a comparison between Hawaii and Colorado. I think we are both great states and unique in our own ways, but clearly we are different. (Colorado) has characteristics that we just don’t share, such as wildfires that cross state lines, the electricity grid that crosses state lines, integration between states, or water right issues between states, or even endangered species that go across state lines. We have a very different set of issues.”

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"Abercrombie to Lingle: don't disparage Obama's Hawaii ties" (October 18, 2008, link)

Congressman Neil Abercrombie lashed out at Governor Linda Lingle Friday, after statements she made recently on the mainland.

While campaigning in Colorado and Nevada for Republican presidential candidate John McCain and running mate Governor Sarah Palin, Abercrombie says Lingle questioned Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's Hawaii ties.

Born and raised in Hawaii, and a graduate of Punahou School, Barack Obama has always cherished, and embraced his connection to the islands.

But this past week on the mainland, Lingle told reporters Obama has never voted in Hawaii, nor has he owned a business here.

"Senator Obama likes to say he's from Hawaii. But, the truth is, I've never met him in my life. He's never called me on the phone. Ninety-five percent of the people in my state had never heard of him before he ran for president" said Lingle.

"To have the governor of the state of Hawaii disparaging someone who is after all born and raised in Hawaii and has carried on a campaign at this high level is a very, very sad day" said Abercrombie.

A spokesman for Lingle, who returned to Honolulu Friday morning, says the comments were taken out of context, and were in no way meant to disparage Senator Obama, or his family members who still live here...

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"Lingle's attack on Obama is unfair and downright silly" (October 25, 2008, link)

Dazzled by her welcome involvement in the presidential campaign of Republican Sen. John McCain, Gov. Linda Lingle has questioned the sincerity of Sen. Barack Obama's connection to Hawaii. The doubt flies in the face of the reality that many people have lifelong attachments to the city, state or country where they were born and raised, especially where relatives remain.

When Obama, D-Ill., was campaigning in Colorado three weeks ago, he joked that he connects to the West because one cannot go further west in the United States than his native Hawaii. Lingle later campaigned for McCain in Colorado and commented, without humor, that Obama had spent only a few years in Hawaii during high school and his claim that Hawaii is one of his home states was "not genuine," the Greeley Tribune reported.

Much of Obama's 1995 memoir, "Dreams of My Father," is about his years in Hawaii, where he was born and spent 14 of the first 18 years of his life, graduating from Punahou School in 1979. His sister, brother-in-law, niece and maternal grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, live in Hawaii.

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"Judge dismisses Obama lawsuit over lack of standing" (October 29, 2008, link)
[The article claims that "Lingle placed Obama's birth records under seal", but then the following is appended:]

Sonoran News has since received the following (by e-mail) from Russell Pang, Chief of Media Relations, Office of the Governor:

Aloha

We would like to request an immediate retraction in Linda Bentley's Oct. 29 article "Judge dismisses Obama lawsuit over lack of standing; Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle seals Obama's birth records."

The subhead, and the statement in the article, "Lingle placed Obama’s birth records under seal and instructed the Hawaii Department of Health, under no condition may it provide access to the original document unless Obama authorizes it to be released," are not true.

The Governor did not make any order relating to this matter. Vital records are administered through the state Department of Health.

Under Hawaii state law (Hawaii Revised Statutes §338-18), copies of vital records may only be released to those who have a tangible relationship to the person whose record is being sought.

Neither the Governor's office, nor any other office in the State of Hawai'i, can provide information concerning birth certificates, or produce birth certificates, to anyone except those who are listed in the law governing vital statistics records. Vital statistics records, such as birth certificates, are protected by strict confidentiality requirements. Specifically, pursuant to section 338-18, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), the Department of Health, which maintains these records, may not allow the inspection of a birth certificate, or issue a certified copy of a birth certificate, or disclose any information contained in a birth certificate, unless it is satisfied that the applicant has a direct and tangible interest in the record: [...requirements deleted...]

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Now, here's the FAX I sent on 8/6/09 to Russell Pang of Linda Lingle's office:

I've repeatedly attempted to reach you regarding highly misleading claims that CNN and the New York Times have made concerning Governor Lingle. I would appreciated it if you would respond to this letter with a statement sent to the email address given above.

On July 17, 2009 in an attempt to debunk the "Birthers" controversy, Kitty Pilgrim very strongly implied that Governor Lingle had verified that Obama was born in Hawaii ("The Republican governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, on record, she says Obama was indeed born in her state and we should note, she did support John McCain", transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0907/17/ldt.01.html)

On August 5, 2009, Jeff Zeleny of the New York times said something similar in his article about the "Birthers" controversy ("The state’s Republican governor, Linda Lingle, has said that Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii", nytimes.com/2009/08/05/us/politics/05zeleny.html).

As I discuss at http://24ahead.com/lingle-obama-hawaii Governor Lingle has said Obama was born there but only in passing and when she was on the campaign trail for John McCain. She's never (as far as I've been able to determine) responded to the "Birthers" controversy by issuing a statement verifying that Obama was born in Hawaii. Wouldn't you agree that - since their claims appeared in articles about the "Birther" controversy - both Pilgrim and Zeleny are giving the false impression that Governor Lingle has verified that Obama was born in Hawaii?

Please send me an email with the answers to the following:

1. Has Governor Lingle ever verified that Obama was born in Hawaii?
2. Will you be asking CNN and the New York Times to issue a correction or a clarification of some kind?

Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:38 · Importance: 4

Fri, 08/07/2009 - 03:32
petty bourgeois

They could just disclose the document and wait to get sued by the emperor. Anticipation of litigation over a medical record does not justify abrogating the constitution you are sworn to uphold as a public official. These people need to be dragged into the town square, tarred and feathered and run off the island in canoes bound for antarctica, stupid hawaiians. I have a dozen friends in hawaii named "junior" totally fit for this purpose.

Mon, 08/10/2009 - 01:10
Inquiring Mind

So what did Lingle's office respond with to your fax? Please provide a .jpg image if it was a return fax. Thanks.

Fri, 09/25/2009 - 21:53
I just wasted 10 minutes of my

The only reason why you are pursuing this issue is either you are racist, or you do not have anything better to do with your time. If you really believe that McCain's or Hillary's campaigns would not have known whether he was born in Hawaii or not, you must be quite naive.

Fri, 09/25/2009 - 22:03
Let Us Be Smart

Q: Is a certification of live birth the same thing as a birth certificate in Hawaii? Answer: No, but the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands accepts both Certificates of Live Birth (original birth certificate) and Certifications of Live Birth because they are official government records documenting an individual's birth. There are two categories of documents used in determining eligibility [for Hawaiian Home Lands program]: primary and secondary. Primary Documents Birth certificates (Certificates of Live Birth and Certifications of Live Birth) and Certificates of Hawaiian Birth are the primary documents used to determine native Hawaiian qualification. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands accepts both Certificates of Live Birth (original birth certificate) and Certifications of Live Birth because they are official government records documenting an individual's birth. The Certificate of Live Birth generally has more information which is useful for genealogical purposes as compared to the Certification of Live Birth which is a computer-generated printout that provides specific details of a person's birth. Although original birth certificates (Certificates of Live Birth) are preferred for their greater detail, the State Department of Health (DOH) no longer issues Certificates of Live Birth. When a request is made for a copy of a birth certificate, the DOH issues a Certification of Live Birth. http://hawaii.gov/dhhl/applicants/appforms/applyhhl Therefore, any information on the Certification of Live Birth has to come from the Certificate of Live Birth, which is a birth certificate in Hawaii. If you look at the certification provided on Obama's web site, it clearly shows the location of birth as Honolulu. So, please do yourself a favor and get a life.

Sat, 09/26/2009 - 02:15
Bob Villa

I'm sure you wholeheartedly believe all this, but this entire article is based on assumptions. So there are people in Hawaii who don't know Obama, and you believe that means he wasn't born there. That simply does not make any sense. There are millions of people in the state wherein I was born who do not know me, and I lived there until age 23. Please address this: why would the "Clinton Machine," as it has been call, ignore this issue during the primary? Do you honestly think you have more information than the Clintons, or the McCain camp? Seriously? I mean, really. Use your brain. This is absurdity, regardless of your politic leanings. I think it would be beneficial to the "birthers" to sit down and consider two questions: 1). Do I believe a black man should be president? If not, fine. Then say it that way instead of making things up to scare ignorant people. 2). Am I schizophrenic? Because, quite honestly, this sounds like a whole lot of delusions to me.

Sat, 09/26/2009 - 02:17
Bob Villa

And to petty, above. The courts are barred by LAW (including the constitution) from releasing confidential medical records. Just FYI.

Sat, 09/26/2009 - 11:46
Justo Mas Americano

Who gives a ratas ass if Obama was born in Hawai? The law says that an American has the right to be so if any one of his/her parents is an American. To sum it up to all you maize eating people that call it corn* (which actually means grain in proper British English), hypothetically speaking, if an American gives birth on the moon, her child could claim his/her mother's citizenship and obtain the "American Birth Certificate of an American Born Abroad" as long as there is a U.S. Embassy or Consulate office to fill in (fill out for the Yanks)the paperwork in the country/moon where the child is born. *corn is mentioned in the New Testament, corn meaning grain... because maize (corn for the Yanks) was not discovered by Europeans until they went to America. So, the real American is Maize and Corn is a misused illegal alien meal word in the New Testament. Bye ya bunch of illegal European immigrants in Amercia

Mon, 09/28/2009 - 18:08
ClinicalThinker

Justo Mas Americano? "The law says that an American has the right to be so if any one of his/her parents is an American." No that IS NOT what the law or more important the CONSTITUTION or the 14 amendment says. It directly says (parents) meaning plural. Now we can argue whether the fore fathers made a mistake saying parents or intended it to be parent. Since at this point we argue THE LETTER OF THE LAW parents remains plural. For those failing reading comprehension or failing to read period that means IF BOTH PARENTS ARE NOT QUALIFIED CITIZENS you do not pop out "natural born" in the USA. However that could be something argued in the courts from this point on. For now what is stands and does not get to be retroactive. So as the constitution states it does not matter if Obama is from Timbuktu he still is not natural born to the USA.

Mon, 09/28/2009 - 18:22
ClinicalThinker

Bob Villa? "1). Do I believe a black man should be president?" As a white woman I most certainly do. Personally I do not care if he is green so get off the tiresome race bullcrap ... it makes you look even more the fool. "2). Am I schizophrenic?" No ... are you? "Because, quite honestly, this sounds like a whole lot of delusions to me." Clearly common sense nor logic compute in your brain. Perhaps you might want to read my above comment then read the constitution and what the man who penned the 14th amendment said in congressional records (defining "natural born citizen") ... then POSSIBLY you will no longer be ignorant of the facts. Arguing what you do not know is like pissing in the wind. And quite honestly, this sounds like you like being doused in yellow liquid to me.