Panel rules Obama is eligible to be on Kansas ballot
Topeka ? Kansas officials on Monday ended a “birther” challenge to putting President Barack Obama on the state’s November general election ballot.
On Thursday, the State Objections Board caused a national furor when it delayed a decision on a challenge brought by Manhattan resident Joe Montgomery, who said Obama was ineligible to be on the ballot because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.
The all-Republican board — composed of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer — said it needed more time on the matter to get documents certifying Obama’s birth certificate from Hawaii.
By late Friday, however, Montgomery withdrew his objection because, he said, he was the victim of abuse and intimidation.
On Monday, the board appeared ready to dismiss the matter and adjourn, but Orly Taitz, a national figure in challenging Obama’s citizenship, appeared at the meeting, demanded to speak to the board and challenged the president’s place on the ballot.
She said that Obama’s birth certificate was a forgery and that Montgomery withdrew his objection under duress. “This is a matter of national security,” she said.
But Kobach said Taitz’s challenge was not filed within the deadline to present a ballot challenge.
“I’m sorry, if you had filed your objection during that period you would have been perfectly able to bring,” the issues, he said.
Attorney General Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Colyer, were no-shows at the Monday meeting and sent representatives. Colyer, who is a plastic surgeon, was “with patients,” according to Gov. Sam Brownback’s office. Schmidt was out sick, his office said.
Colyer’s chief of staff, Mark Dugan, filling in for Colyer, quickly moved to adjourn the meeting, and Chief Deputy Attorney General John Campbell, filling in for Schmidt, called for a vote on the matter.
The motion passed unanimously, but not before Kobach allowed Taitz to speak briefly at the meeting.
Later, outside the meeting room, an Obama supporter shouted at Taitz as she spoke to the media and a security officer cleared the hallway, ordering people outside.
Kobach, an informal adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said he didn’t believe Kansas suffered negative publicity over the ballot challenge. He said if an objection is properly filed, the board is obligated to consider it.
The allegation that Obama was born in a foreign country and ineligible to be president has been discredited. The White House released the president’s 1961 long form birth certificate last year and Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed his citizenship. Obama’s mother was a Kansas native.
Asked why the birth certificate challenge wasn’t dismissed on Thursday, Kobach said the state needed a verification of the document.
“Like any quasi-judicial body, you have to do more than just act on somebody’s say-so or on hearsay,” he said. The secretary of state’s office received verification from Hawaii officials about the validity of Obama’s birth certificate, officials said.
About a dozen Obama supporters showed up at the meeting and expressed displeasure, saying the board gave the challenge credence by not dismissing it last week.
T.J. Gaughan of Topeka held a sign that said “Let People Vote,” and he criticized Kobach for pushing the new law in Kansas that requires voters to show photo ID to vote.
He called it a voter suppression law. Gaughan added, “It’s a shame our state has been dragged before the nation with this birther stuff.”