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.
"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...
"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."
"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.
"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.”
"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...
"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.
"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:
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...]
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?