PHOENIX - Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Friday he is requesting officials in Hawaii to provide verification that President Obama was, in fact, born there.
Bennett, the state's chief election official, said he has had multiple requests from constituents to verify the president is a "natural-born citizen" and therefore eligible to hold the highest office in the land. Those requests demand he see the actual birth certificate and even to go to Hawaii to do a forensic examination of it to determine its authenticity - requests that were rejected.
But Bennett said he learned Hawaii has a law that allows it to do a verification for any officials from other states who have the need.
"I downloaded the form off of Hawaii's website, I got a $5 money order and filled it out and basically sent it in," he explained. "What you're asking for really is for them to say, yes we have - or do you have - a certificate for Barack Hussein Obama II born on August 4, 1961, to these parents at this place and on and on and on."
Bennett said if he eventually gets the verification, that ends the matter. And if he does not?
"I don't think it does anyone any good to speculate the worst- case scenario," he said.
"I think Hawaii will, one way or the other ... confirm or verify that they have a certificate for the president," Bennett continued. "And it's done."
The request comes despite the fact Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed legislation last year that would have required candidates for president to provide documents proving they meet the federal constitutional requirement to be a "natural-born citizen" before their names are placed on the ballot. The governor said giving the secretary of state authority to decide if a candidate is eligible, as the law would have allowed, "could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions."
Similar legislation this year requiring political parties to provide such proof never made it to the governor's desk.
But Bennett said that does not preclude what he is doing.
"I don't think every specific act that the secretary of state does in the course of their duty is specifically authorized in a statute," he said.
For example, Bennett said as the chief election officer for the state, he designs many forms. And he said there is no specific authority for that.
He acknowledged he has made no similar request for other candidates.
But Bennett, a Republican who is weighing a run for governor in 2014, said he is not singling out the Democratic president for special treatment. He said he was simply responding to the request of a constituent, saying he would do the same thing "if somebody asked me to verify the Libertarian candidate or Mitt Romney or whoever it might end up being."
Brewer was surprised by the move, but noncritical, saying she does not have an opinion on it.
But the governor already is on record as believing such a request is unnecessary.
Brewer said Friday she spoke several years ago to her Hawaiian counterpart when the issue first arose.
"She validated to me that the (birth) certificate was valid," Brewer said. "And I put that to a rest."