by Jeff Lichter, ©2017

(Feb. 13, 2017) — Note:  Please see and sign petition in the middle of this article. Thank you.

It was at a Tea Party group known as the Northwest Valley Tea Party (NWVTP) that we first spoke up for the constitutional oath that Lt. Col. Terry Lakin was standing up so tall for and that he was being threatened with a court martial for.  Led by Jim and Julie Wise, a splinter group broke off and became the Surprise, Arizona Tea Party, which quickly became the Tea Party group, which took more action for the Presidential Eligibility issue than any other group, Tea Party or otherwise, for this cause.

At that last meeting we attended at the NWVTP I stood up and informed the attendees about the firestorm suddenly surrounding Lt. Col. Lakin. Many in the group knew that Barack Obama’s eligibility for office had already been a significant issue in the country but very few knew that this highly-decorated, 18-year veteran of the U.S. Army had issued a YouTube video in which he stated that he wanted to see a legitimate birth certificate from President Obama or he might refuse to deploy on his next assignment to Afghanistan.

When we started the Surprise, AZ Tea Party, the three universal goals of the Tea Party movement — limited government, financial responsibility, and free markets — were central to our cause, but Terry Lakin’s cause came along not far behind.  I led a subsidiary coalition which quickly organized action whereby we sponsored a Terry Lakin Day.

So, on December 6, 2010 our rally occurred throughout the Phoenix area. Well over 50 members gathered in the early morning with their specially-crafted homemade signs (pictured in this article). Many of the signs contained photos of Terry in his decorated uniform along with moving words of support for him as well as the natural born citizen clause of the Constitution that Terry was risking his entire career for. At this meeting site, the car pools were organized and the trip began.

The first stop was along the heavily trafficked Camelback Road area between 24th and 32nd Streets, composed of many high rise office buildings and interweaving popular retail stores.  In the several hours we stationed there, the American flags and homemade signs we carried were repeatedly waved at the passing vehicles and almost all of them responded affirmatively by sounding their horns back at us.  Some local news reporters along with their cameras interviewed several of us and the story appeared that evening on their stations.  During the few very quick coffee breaks which rotated among us (so that the others were still “on call” and waving the message), it was clear that everyone was very energized and glad they were engaged in the patriotic cause.

Later in the morning, we left Camelback Road and patrolled over to the nearby offices of Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl.  Outside of McCain’s office, most of our members remained outside flashing their signs and talking to everyone they could, both drivers and those walking by. A smaller group of us tried to get into the inner circles at the office but were limited to only being able to speak on Terry’s behalf to just one staff representative.  That person, it could be said, tried to be courteous to us. But we could really tell that it was superficial and that we were wanted out of there as soon as possible.  So after a few minutes of pitching Terry’s cause and the surrounding constitutional issue of eligibility, we left, but not before a few “shout-out remarks” addressing the apathy that seemed evident.

Next, we marched off to the nearby office of Senator Jon Kyl and repeated what we had just done at McCain’s. The difference here was that our small group was allowed into Kyl’s conference room to talk to several of his representatives.  Every one of us at the table got to make our statement(s) and were told that Kyl would be advised of everything we expressed.  Although that was as much as we could expect, certainly nothing ever came of it except for a letter signed by Kyl defending the court martial as justified by military law for disobeying orders.

The final leg of our day was a long trip to the Glendale, Arizona office of Congressman Trent Franks.  Most of the 50-60 “shall I say protesters” were still with us, and again, many of us were allowed into the conference room of the Congressman.  They had already known about the eligibility issue before.  In fact, in 2009, I had a private meeting with Franks, at which time he severely contradicted himself by at first saying he had been thinking about filing an eligibility suit himself but later had concluded that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii from the newspaper articles from that time that had been found. Of course, I pointed out the fallacy of being convinced by just a newspaper publication but to no avail. Back to the meeting in the conference room, we were told that they did in fact know about Terry’s stance and that they had met with him personally and had advised him against it. Nevertheless, they listened to what we had to say, and Congressman Franks sent a letter stating sympathy for Terry and his cause but denying that they as a congressional office had any ability to halt a court martial.

The court martial eventually took place a week later between December 14-16 of 2010. Unfortunately, represented by two very poor attorneys and not allowed his full due process, the Army presiding trial officer did not permit ANY evidence pertaining to Obama’s lack of eligibility to be heard. Only arguments as to Lakin’s refusal to obey orders were admitted. So naturally, Lakin was forced to plead guilty to that factual charge and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.  He had invited his own court martial and went to jail simply for asking the same question that many millions of Americans were also asking about the eligibility of the President and ended up serving a 5½-month sentence. Terry Lakin was released from Leavenworth in May, 2011. His entire pay, pension, and status as an Army officer were all sacrificed.

Today, in February 2017, with Donald Trump’s election, there is currently a White House petition being circulated to restore that pay, pension, and status into the US Army.  If you are reading this, and have not yet signed that petition, please do so by going to this link:

The Surprise Tea Party went on to become known as the group most engaged in the Obama constitutional eligibility issue.  Among their actions on behalf of this issue were the following events that they pursued.

January 2010 through April 2011 …..Initiated, under the sponsorship of state representative Judy Burges, legislation designed to enforce procedures that would assure that any presidential candidate would be properly vetted to assure that he/she was in fact a natural born citizen. This bill passed on April 15, 2011 along a total party-line vote in the Arizona House and Senate, but was stunningly promptly vetoed by the Republican governor, Jan Brewer, on April 18, 2011.  Arizona was the only state to pass this kind of eligibility legislation, but Brewer’s veto killed similar bills that were ongoing at the time in several other states.

April 8, 2011 ….. Symbolically representing the Surprise Tea Party, I had the distinct honor of  being one of three Arizonans to be invited to meet with Donald Trump in his office at Trump Tower about our legislation referred to above and the entire Obama eligibility matter. In this meeting, Trump asked several questions about the meaning and application of the natural born citizen term and also pronounced that “his sources in DC were telling him that a forged birth certificate would soon be issued.

April 27, 2011  …. Obama bowed to the pressure from Trump and Jerome Corsi (who had just published the book, “Where’s The Birth Certificate?” and released his supposed long-form birth certificate from Hawaii, which then immediately was suspected of forgery from many experts and even some high school students with expertise in graphics.

August 17, 2011… Surprise Tea Party (STP) hosted Dr. Jerome Corsi for a speaking event centering on Obama’s lack of eligibility and his newly-released book on the birth certificate.  At least 250 from the audience that night signed a petition asking Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to investigate the authenticity, or lack thereof, of the Obama birth certificate released in April.  A meeting had been prearranged with Arpaio for the following morning.

August 18, 2011 … Jerome Corsi, Jim and Julie Wise, Brian and Denise Reilly, and I met with Arpaio and his staff of advisors and public relations people. The evidence that Corsi already had was presented, and a few days later, Sheriff Arpaio announced the delegation of his Cold Case Posse to investigate it as requested by the 250+ signed petitioners. He named Mike Zullo as its chief investigator.

March 1, 2012 … Just over six months later, Arpaio and the Cold Case Posse held their first press conference and declared “probable cause” that the investigated birth certificate and Selective Service registration form are forgeries.

March 21, 2012 …. Three weeks later, Surprise Tea Party planned and held the “Church on the Green” event wherein Arpaio and Zullo reiterated their findings to an assembled overflow crowd of 1200+ attendees, many even from out-of-state. This was probably the largest Tea Party attendance at an event since the inception of the early initial Tea Party rally in Washington, DC and clearly reflected the great interest in the constitutional eligibility issue and the Arpaio findings on the two Obama documents.

July 17, 2012 …. The probable cause finding was discarded and the birth certificate declared a “computer-generated forgery” for sure, a little over one year from Terry Lakin’s release from prison.

Sept. 22, 2012  ….  Based on the tremendous interest from the Church on the Green event, Surprise Tea Party planned a similar event at the Celebrity Theatre, which seats over 2000, in Phoenix. Terry Lakin and Pat Boone, among other notables, were scheduled to speak at this event and call for a congressional investigation of the forged birth certificate and Selective Service registration form of Obama. Sadly, this event ended up being canceled because of lack of sufficient ticket sales. In contrast, the Church on the Green had been a free event.

In conclusion, the Terry Lakin story was sad in one sense, but at the same time, a heroic story of a man willing to sacrifice his career, pay, and pension in order to stand up for what the Constitution required, that being a qualified candidate that had approved status as a natural born citizen. It also showed that a Tea Party group in Surprise, Arizona could also be very influential and motivated to stand behind Terry and at the same time, the enforcement of this provision in our Constitution. Kudos to both. Now, let’s get Terry Lakin pardoned and reinstated to the Army he always loved serving. The petition is highlighted earlier in this article. Thank you.


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