DID MARK BENNETT “REVIEW AND APPROVE” HEALTH DEPARTMENT STATEMENT CLAIMING OBAMA A “NATURAL BORN AMERICAN CITIZEN”?
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 8, 2018) — According to a May 6 article in The Washington Post, former Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett has submitted an application for consideration for a position on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals based on San Francisco.
Federal judges are nominated by the president and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. President Trump is currently urging the Senate to increase its pace of confirming his dozens of federal judiciary nominees still awaiting hearings. However, on Monday Reuters reported that with 15 nominees confirmed since Trump took office, more of Trump’s judicial picks have been seated than at the same time in Barack Obama’s first term.
The Post reported that following the death of Ninth Circuit Judge Steven Reinhardt in March, there are currently seven vacancies on the court, often referred to as “liberal” in its composition and a source of irritation to Trump, particularly in regard to its halting of his “travel ban” issued just days after he took office.
In August, an eighth vacancy will arise on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to The Post. The article also discusses the longstanding but unofficial Senate procedure known as a “blue slip” in which members of that body provide or withhold their approval of a federal judicial nominee from their state.
Bennett served as Hawaii’s attorney general under then-Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, from 2003 to 2010. In Hawaii, the attorney general is appointed rather than elected. In 2010, Neil Abercrombie was elected governor and subsequently appointed David Louie to be Bennett’s successor.
Through a link in The Post’s article, Bennett’s questionnaire submitted as part of the consideration process can be read here. The 123-page document shows that while working alternately in private practice over many years, Bennett “on occasion” served as a “Special Deputy Attorney General for the State of Hawai’i” or in another public capacity.
On his questionnaire, Bennett indicated that he has the support of Hawaii’s two Democrat U.S. Senators, Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, both Democrats, a claim also reported by Reuters. Schatz is a former Hawaii state representative and served as lieutenant governor under Abercrombie.
From 2008 to 2010, Schatz served as chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In 2008, it was noted that wording required by state law to say that the nominated candidates were “legally qualified” to hold the offices they sought “under the United States Constitution” was withheld from the forms on which Obama’s name was indicated as candidate for president and then-Sen. Joseph Biden’s name for vice president.
Instead, the Democratic Party of Hawaii stated:
THIS IS TO CERTIFY that the following candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the national Democratic Parties balloting at the Presidential Preference Whole and Caucus held on February 19th, 2008 in the State of Hawaii and by acclamation at the National Democratic Convention held August 27, 2008 in Denver, Colorado.
Upon the December 2012 death of long-serving Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, Abercrombie appointed Schatz to complete Inouye’s term, after which Schatz sought and won the office in a 2014 special election and again for a full six-year term in 2016.
Bennett was Hawaii attorney general in March 2010 when his deputy, Jill T. Nagamine, sent a letter to The Post & Email contradicting a claim made by Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) spokeswoman Janice Okubo the previous year involving Bennett and the issue of Barack Hussein Obama’s constitutional eligibility to serve as president.
Questions as to Obama’s eligibility had arisen in 2007 and were heightened after MSNBC’s Chris Matthews stated on December 18 of that year that Obama was “born in Indonesia.” Other mainstream media sources had previously reported Obama as having been born in the nation of Kenya, where his alleged father was born and raised, while others reported him as having been born in Hawaii.
Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution requires that the president be a “natural born Citizen,” which most Americans understand to mean “born in the United States.” Some scholars and constitutional attorneys go farther, stating that the Framers believed that full allegiance to the new nation could be assured only by a candidate whose parents were U.S. citizens when he was born.
There has been no U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the issue in recent decades, although four previous rulings have often been referenced by those claiming that a “natural born Citizen” must have been born in the United States to U.S.-citizen parents.
In the midst of ongoing questions about Obama’s eligibility, on July 27, 2009 Fukino made a public statement in which she said:
I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Director of the Hawai’i State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawai‘i 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.
Two days later, researcher Justin Riggs wrote to the Hawaii Department of Health and another recipient to ask, “The reason that I am contacting your organizations is that you are, as far as I can tell from my research, the only two groups that have openly stated that President Obama is a natural born citizen (one of the Article II, Section I qualifications for being President). I would like to document how you came to that conclusion: i. e. what the criteria is for your organization, what evidence the candidate provides, etc. I thank you for your time, and look forward to receiving a response in the near future.”
Referring to Fukino’s July 27, 2009 statement, HDOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo responded to Riggs by email with, “The statement was reviewed and approved by our Attorney General Mark Bennett. I am unable to provide further comment.”
As The Post & Email reported on March 28, 2010, Bennett’s office refused to corroborate Okubo’s statement. At the time, The Post & Email was conducting the second iteration of its “Hawaii Petition Campaign” requesting that any and all Hawaii state agencies with documentation as to Obama’s alleged birth there release it for the benefit of the American people.
In her response letter to this publication, Nagamine wrote that “the Department of the Attorney General has no government documents pertaining to the preparation of the public statements made by Dr. Fukino in regard to vital records which pertain to Barack Hussein Obama, II.”
Nagamine was also dispatched to meet with Maricopa County investigator Mike Zullo and an accompanying deputy when they traveled to the HDOH in 2012 seeking to speak with the Registrar Dr. Alvin Onaka in regard to the “long-form” birth certificate image posted on the White House website on April 27, 2011 bearing Obama’s name.
On that day, then-White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer claimed that the scanned PDF image uploaded to whitehouse.gov was of that of a certified copy of Obama’s original, detailed birth certificate released by the state of Hawaii to Obama’s personal attorney.
Pfeiffer’s account of how the certified copies were allegedly released does not agree with a later account of the alleged transaction published by The New York Times, which reported that Atty. Judith Corley had traveled to the Health Department to “find” Obama’s original birth documentation.
The Post & Email’s real-time summary of a July 17, 2012 press conference in which Zullo described the incident reads, in relevant part:
Zullo then was saying that several police officers greeted them at the Hawaii Department of Health. Several minutes later, Nagamine came out and told them that “Mr. Onaka doesn’t speak to the public.” They then went into a private office. He said that “the deputy attorney general was doing nothing more than hiding behind state statutes.”
Zullo asked Nagamine if the birth certificate he had in his hand was the same as that which was allegedly given to Obama’s attorneys in April 2011. Nagamine reportedly “accused” Zullo of requesting a verification.
Also in 2011, Nagamine argued on behalf of the Health Department claiming that plaintiff Duncan Sunahara, who filed a lawsuit to obtain his deceased sister’s “long-form” birth certificate, was entitled to receive the document only in the format designated by the Health Department’s then-director, Loretta Fuddy. During oral argument, Nagamine was noted to have claimed (paraphrased) that “Duncan Sunahara’s request did not derive from a true interest to examine or obtain a copy of his sister’s original birth records, to which he was entitled under Hawaii law. Nagamine insisted his underlying interest was to produce evidence in Obama’s birth controversy, to which he was not entitled under Hawaii law.”
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.