Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who was roundly criticized last week after ThinkProgress reported the Florida congressmen questioning whether President Obama’s birth certificate is “legitimate,” confirmed today that he is indeed a birther.
When asked about the issue on Capitol Hill today, Stearns told reporters, “I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence.” He called for credence to be given to birth certificate investigations, saying, “I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say.” The Hill has more:
In April 2011, the White House released Obama’s long-form birth certificate to the public, hoping to put the matter to bed for good. But the issue has popped back up repeatedly — most recently in early March, when Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he had evidence the document was a fake.
Asked Tuesday if he thinks the birth certificate is legitimate, Stearns cited an inquiry by an Arizona sheriff – an apparent reference to Arpaio – and noted he believed there is “another investigation” as well.
“I think we are just going to hold in abeyance a final decision until we hear, you know, some of these people seem to have legitimate concerns, so I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say,” Stearns said.
The man Stearns finds it reasonable to listen to is disgraced Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, generally known for rampant racial profiling against Latinos, but more recently for assembling a team of volunteer self-styled investigators to examine Obama’s birth certificate. Earlier this month, that team concluded that the birth certificate is a “forgery and fraud.”
Not so long ago, Stearns actually accepted the fact that President Obama was born in the United States. In 2009, his office looked into the matter and concluded that there was “no reason to question the President’s citizenship.” It’s unclear whether new evidence or a right-wing primary challenger has since led Stearns to dive into the murky world of birtherism.
Stearns is chairman of the the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, a perch he has used to spearhead the investigation into failed solar manufacturer Solyndra and Planned Parenthood.