by Sharon Rondeau

(Oct. 19, 2016) — On October 16, Arizona Central (AC) published an article by Richard Ruelas featuring an interview with former Surprise, AZ Tea Party member and former Maricopa County Cold Case Posse volunteer Brian Reilly about the origins of Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio‘s investigation of Barack Hussein Obama’s long-form birth certificate posted on the White House website on April 27, 2011.

The article is titled, “How Arizona became ground zero for ‘birthers,'” referencing a pejorative applied by the mainstream media to anyone with questions about Obama’s origins, birthplace or life narrative, all of which have shifted over time.

In August 2011, Brian Reilly was instrumental in compelling Arpaio to make the decision to delegate his Cold Case Posse, comprising volunteer members with law enforcement investigative experience and backgrounds and similar to a special task force in other areas of the country, to launch an investigation into the authenticity of the long-form birth certificate image.  While originally supportive of the investigation, Reilly now claimed to Ruelas that he believed that a team of volunteers who held “full-time jobs” was insufficient to the task, in stark contrast to the public affirmation he gave at a live video-streamed event of over 1,200 people in Arizona in 2012.

Reporting about the first of two press conferences held by Arpaio on March 1, 2012 to reveal the investigation’s findings, AC’s article reflected that from Reilly’s standpoint, “There wasn’t anything new.”  However, at the presser, CCP lead investigator Mike Zullo and Arpaio announced their conclusion, drawn from six months of probing entailing a trip to Hawaii and the pursuit of a number of other investigative leads, that “probable cause” existed to believe the birth certificate image is a “computer-generated forgery,” all of which was, in fact, new information.

Also released at the same time but unreported by AC, Zullo revealed that the investigation found Obama’s purported Selective Service registration form to be fraudulent.

AC’s article emphasizes Reilly’s claim to have become disenchanted with the investigation after the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) on May 22, 2012 released a “Verification” document to then-Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett in response to Bennett’s request in consideration of questions raised about Obama’s eligibility and candidacy in the 2012 election.  In the AC interview, Reilly maintained that the document proved to him that Obama was born in Hawaii and that Arpaio’s investigation should have therefore been concluded.  Or did it?

The article presents several contradictions, including Reilly’s having said (see embedded video) that the investigation was “slanted toward ‘birtherism'” (1:45) even though Arpaio and Zullo have said publicly on many occasions that they “don’t care where Obama was born.” One of those occasions included a presentation reported on by Ruelas on September 21, 2016 depicting Arpaio’s most recent address to the Surprise Tea Party.  “I don’t care where he’s from,” Arpaio told the group.  “We are looking at a forged document. Period.  That’s it.”

The sheriff said that his team was not yet finished with its work.

“I got my answers,” Reilly told the AC interviewer, referring to the release of the verification form, a document which Zullo has denounced as problematic in and of itself.


The verification form does not explain the “anomalies” which Reilly claimed he noted in the long-form birth certificate, nor does it address the findings of forgery in Obama’s Selective Service form.

The HDOH released the verification form to Bennett on May 22, 2012.  The following day, Reilly sent an email to a large number of recipients stating that the verification form was inadequate to addressing whether or not Obama was born in Hawaii or any other questions about his eligibility to serve as president. “‘Verification’ from Hawaii in this situation is not believable and is highly suspect,” Reilly wrote to the group of concerned citizens.

Reilly was a member of the Cold Case Posse between mid-April and the end of June 2012. According to Zullo in remarks provided exclusively to The Post & Email, Reilly never indicated that he was personally dissatisfied with the verification form during that time.

Moreover, on September 25, 2012, Reilly wrote an open letter to then-Arizona Attorney General William Montgomery recommending that the posse’s evidence be turned over to the county grand jury for examination, emphasizing in particular that the verification form did not contain even the most basic information:  a birth date for its subject, “Barack Hussein Obama, II.”

In response to Reilly’s appearance on the Peter Boyles show approximately two years ago in which Reilly was highly critical of Arpaio’s investigation, Zullo confirmed to Tea Party Power Hour host Mark Gillar that Reilly is a skilled researcher with the qualifier “at times” (6:15 in the broadcast).

While AC appeared to accept Reilly as an authority on the CCP’s activities, Zullo told Gillar that Reilly was a member of the Cold Case Posse for approximately ten weeks and was not given any special authority or decision-making ability.  During two of those weeks, Zullo said, the Reillys were on vacation, and for another two weeks, Reilly was having a vehicle repainted and he was out of service.  Zullo said that he recalls Reilly working only about three weeks in total in the field.

At the 18:00 mark in the interview, Zullo told Gillar that in regard to the verification form Bennett received, “the verbiage is a joke.”

To Reilly’s claim that the verification should have put the questions about the long-form birth certificate to rest, Zullo said, “That is 100% a fallacy.”

On Monday evening, Gillar forwarded an email (pictured below) sent by Reilly on May 23, 2012 belying Reilly’s statements to Ruelas about his belief that the verification answered all relevant questions about Obama’s origins. Along with the documentation, Gillar offered his own observations:

We have read many times that the minute Onaka released a verification for Ken Bennett, Brian Reilly conceded that the birth certificate must be real. That for him it was over when the verification was released. He made the same statement when being interviewed by Morgan Loew.   Well, If Reilly did believe Onaka’s verification, he sure had a funny way of showing it.

[Editor’s Note:  Morgan Loew is an investigative reporter for Channel 5 in Phoenix.  His interview with Reilly has been removed from its place on the web without explanation.]

Keep in mind, that Onaka’s verification was issued on May 22, 2012.  Within 24 hours, Reilly had sent an email to the press in which he said:  “Verification” from Hawaii in this situation is not believable and is highly suspect.  Reilly added “Bennett let Arizona and America down with his feckless decision.”

For some who might suggest that this was Reilly’s initial reaction to Onaka’s verification and that he soon after changed his mind, I point out that some four months later, he penned an open letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery which was published on the Center for Western Journalism Website in which he called for Montgomery to turn over Sheriff Arpaio’s information to a grand jury.  He also seemed critical of Secretary of State Bennett for accepting a verification that did not verify Obama’s birth date.

Reilly’s more recent about-face regarding the investigation has been published at such websites as and the Phoenix New Times.  In a January 9, 2013 post at the Center for Western Journalism, Reilly asked rhetorically why some of his research, although unrelated to the investigation of Obama’s documents, was not disseminated by the posse “prior to the November 6, 2012 election.”

Zullo declined an interview request from The Post & Email for this article but was agreeable to clarifying several points made in the AC piece.

In regard to AC’s having reported that Reilly “was not offered the chance to join the posse on a nine-day trip to Hawaii that May, something Reilly initially took as a shunning,” Zullo said that Reilly asked twice to accompany him to Hawaii but that Zullo denied Reilly’s requests.  Zullo went on to clarify that Reilly was “an unproven entity” as a new member and said that he could not justify a legitimate reason to take him along. In addition, there were “safety-related issues that Sheriff Arpaio had been concerned about and there simply was no need to put anyone else at risk,” Zullo said.

Zullo has also said in other interviews that he had always intended to keep Reilly at arm’s distance from the inner workings of the investigation.  “Reilly’s perception of having been ‘shunned’ speaks volumes about his psyche,” Zullo said. “It had become apparent to me that much of Reilly’s dissatisfaction stemmed from the torture chamber of his own subjective perception of reality, and this became a very evident problem for him in his very limited time with us. Mr. Reilly has difficulty objectively analyzing what is actually transpiring in front of him or what is said being said to him or others. Somewhere the reality of events gets filtered through his own distortions and the truth seems to get lost. This proved to be problematic for him in the short time he worked with us. I have experienced this phenomenon with him first-hand, and the sheriff and I have been the target of his animosity as a result,” he said.

An online discussion about the Lake Chelan, WA area, where Reilly resided before moving to Arizona, bearing the name “Brian Reilly” alleges that he observed a “monster” in the waters of the lake.  Reilly wrote that he called a local radio station to report the sighting and claimed the right to assign a name to the “monster” “until the time the lake monster proved himself/herself to be dangerous and ate someone.”

“This raised the ire of a few listeners who said such comments would scare the children of our community,” Reilly continued, to which he responded, “Apparently, the children were listening to the radio while in school?”

Zullo called the “monster” revelation “bizarre and disturbing.” “I think if you saw a monster, you would call the police, not a radio station,” he said. “Reilly appears to be the type of individual who seeks his own publicity.  At one time he even got himself on local news because he bought an old car and claimed it was the car driven in an episode of Hawaii Five-0.  He is always writing letters to editors of local newspapers and always complaining about someone or something. This was a practice of his for decades. We traced this activity back to his time in Seattle. He seems to have a long history of using public forums for his own purpose of retaliating against those he perceives have wronged him. He has a history of targeting people and trying to destroy them and their careers.”

Zullo said that Reilly called him after the release of the verification form became public. “When the story broke about the verification form, I was in Hawaii. It was about 5:00 a.m. there, and I had just seen it,” Zullo said. “Reilly called me there and said, ‘Can you believe this? It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t say “this;” it doesn’t say “that.” And I said, ‘Brian, I just got up. It’s 5 o’clock in the morning here.’ He was beside himself.”

Zullo stated that “Reilly never said” that he was satisfied with the verification form. “He continued on with us and never voiced that opinion once. To the contrary, he was very upset with Ken Bennett,” Zullo recalled, adding, “Reilly’s rendition of his position is blatantly disingenuous. There’s an ever-changing narrative with him; it’s whatever ebb-and-flow of the tide is working for him that day.”

In response to Reilly’s claim to AC that “he also thought that being in the posse would be a good way to keep the investigation on track,” Zullo said, “He was laying out a cover story for why he continued to work with the posse because he was lying about his true position on the verification letter.  He had no ability to influence our work or our decisions.  He has a timeline problem; it does not fit the lie he is telling about his acceptance of the verification. He needs to offer a reason as to why he stayed on if he was so convinced the matter was settled. The truth is he was not convinced and he stayed on until he was finding himself in trouble and about to be terminated. He resigned before termination was going to happen to him. This is nothing but a tall tale.”

Of Reilly’s claim that a video Zullo sent to him allegedly showing that during their May 2012 trip to Hawaii, Zullo and an MCSO detective “were grilling an official who was directing them to the forms they needed to fill out,” Zullo said, “That never happened.  It is completely false, and I don’t even know what he’s talking about.”

Concerning the events which occurred between May 22, 2012 with the release of the verification form; Reilly’s reaction the following day in the email; and Reilly’s September 25, 2012 open letter to Montgomery which found the form deficient, Zullo said, “The timeline makes it obvious that Brian Reilly is not telling the truth, as is the case with him with a lot of other things.”

Further, Zullo told The Post & Email, “Our documented background investigation had revealed that this same type of activity had been conducted by Reilly years earlier against another law enforcement officer. This occurred after he was relieved of his badge and gun, suspended and ultimately fired from a volunteer position with that agency after only one year of part-time work.”

Zullo said that after Reilly resigned following his two months with the posse, he attempted to be reinstated. “However, his request was turned down, and it was at that time that he completely reversed his opinions on the matter and went on a scorched-earth mission against the sheriff and me,” Zullo said. “Look, Reilly is on a mission. He wants to close this investigation down for one reason:  he is no longer a part of it. He even has said as much, making statements such as “I started it” I’m going to end it.” He is angry with me, and he is angry with Sherriff Arpaio because the Sheriff did not reinstate him.”

Zullo refuted Reilly’s claim to AC that “a few days into their trip, Reilly received an urgent email from Zullo. He and Mackiewcz had confronted a Hawaii official about the birth certificate. Zullo had secretly taped the encounter. He wanted Arpaio to see it.”

“He didn’t get ‘an urgent email,'” Zullo said.  “He got a phone call from me in which I said, ‘I’m going to be sending you a videotape. I need you to put it on a drive and get it over to the sheriff.’  So that part is true.”

While Reilly accused Arpaio and Zullo of having “an agenda,” Zullo stated the same of Reilly. “He makes outlandish accusations that are untrue and unfounded. They are contorted in all kinds of ways to go to an ever-changing narrative. He has no first-hand knowledge of the depth of this investigation. I never released the full investigation in those press conferences, and I never alerted anyone as to the other information that we believe can prove this case,” Zullo said.

“Brian Reilly is correct about one thing: he is the guy who initiated this; he is the guy who brought [Dr. Jerome] Corsi in; he is the guy who was there when Corsi supplied us with Corsi’s information, which was the original mandate: to evaluate this information,” Zullo said. “That was done in 2012, things have changed, and a new track has been opened into this matter that has nothing to do with Jerry Corsi or Brian Reilly,” Zullo added.

Zullo said he is “astonished” at how the media continues to use Reilly as a voice of authority on the topic of the birth certificate investigation. “If they would just do a little research, they should be able to find what I found,” Zullo said.

Reilly’s May 23, 2012 email, addressed to several dozen recipients, reads (redactions by The Post & Email):

The open letter published at the Center for Western Journalism dated September 25, 2012, four months after the verification form was released and three months after Reilly resigned from the posse, was addressed to then-Arizona Attorney General William Montgomery and requested referral of the evidence to a grand jury.  Summarizing the conclusions of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) as “shocking,” Reilly wrote, in part, “The people of Arizona deserve truthful answers to the predicament that we currently find ourselves in. Is Barack Obama eligible to be president? Are his identification documents forgeries? Has a crime been committed in Arizona? And if a crime of fraud and forgery and possible conspiracy has been committed, who would be the one to most likely benefit from such crimes? The answer is obvious.”

Reilly expressed his dissatisfaction with the verification form to Montgomery when he said, “…Surprisingly, the one most critical piece of information that was conveniently missing was Mr. Obama’s date of birth. Secretary Bennett, apparently satisfied even with the lack of this critical information, notified the public that Mr. Obama would be on the November ballot (assuming the Democratic National Committee provided the proper nomination form.).”

Reilly concluded his letter with, “Mr. Montgomery, please request Sheriff Arpaio’s findings about President Obama’s identification documents and submit them to the Maricopa County Grand Jury, and let the jurors decide if Mr. Obama benefits from a criminal scheme and should be kept off the Arizona November 2012 ballot. We have the right to know.”

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