• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

No, President Obama Hasn’t Spent “Millions” To Keep His Birth Certificate Private

One of the most persistent things you hear from birthers is the allegation that President Obama has spent millions of dollars trying to keep his birth certificate hidden. Politifact takes a look a finds that there’s not even a remote amount of truth to this:

In an Oct. 27, 2009, article, WND reported that, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, the Obama campaign had paid approximately $1.7 million to the campaign’s law firm, Perkins Coie, since Obama was elected.

So that’s where we started our research. We did our own tally of payments made to Perkins Coie, all of which were reported, as required by law, in quarterly disbursement reports filed to the FEC by his campaign organization, Obama for America. We found that in the last quarter of 2008 — which is roughly the period after Obama was elected in early November — and the first three quarters of 2009, which is when WND wrote its story, Obama for America did, in fact, pay Perkins Coie $1.7 million. If you add in the payments made in subsequent months, the fees paid to Perkins Coie between October 2008 and December 2010 rises to $2.6 million.

But what does that $2.6 million number mean? Not what Trump and others have assumed.

Specifically, the payments by Obama for America to Perkins Coie covered all sorts of legal expenses — not just expenses related to birth certificate issues.

The FEC forms do not specify what each payment specifically went for, since that degree of detail is not required by law. We also couldn’t get additional details from Perkins Coie or the Democratic National Committee about how the legal fees were spent.

However, DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan told the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call in a March 31, 2011, story that “the campaign has incurred ordinary legal expenses related to the wind-down of its operations and other legal services, which all campaigns incur, and which are proportional to the unprecedented size of this campaign.” (The Obama campaign raised upwards of $750 million — a record.)

For the sake of comparison, the Roll Call story noted that the campaign for Obama’s 2008 Republican opponent John McCain — which was a smaller operation — had spent more than $1.3 million on lawyers since the election.

(…)

We should note that, since Obama was elected, a number of federal cases related to the birth certificate issue — including several filed by or with the assistance of California attorney Orly Taitz, a leader among Obama birth certificate questioners — have been handled by federal attorneys, including those with the U.S. Department of Justice. Several of these cases were dismissed almost immediately. Others were active for up to a year but were ultimately dismissed and then, in some cases, appealed. The case in which Bauer wrote the letter to the plaintiff was dismissed twice by the Supreme Court.

We interpret the quotations by Trump and Palin to mean payments made by Obama in a personal capacity, not in cases where he’s represented in an official capacity by government lawyers. For one thing, both Trump and Palin used the term “legal fees,” which would be irrelevant in a case defended by government lawyers. Federal attorneys are paid a salary by the taxpayers, and they do not charge their “client” — in this case, the president — fees for representation. If these attorneys weren’t working on birth certificate cases, they’d be working on some other case for the same salary.

So that leaves the funds paid to Perkins Coie. Trump’s and Palin’s claims assume that the vast majority of the money paid to Perkins Coie since the election was used to defend against lawsuits challenging Obama’s citizenship. We agree that some amount of money was spent in legal fees related to those lawsuits — the letter from Bauer to the plaintiff is an example of that. But, while we don’t know exactly how much the Obama camp spent on their private lawyers, there were many, many non-birth-certificate duties that a law firm typically handles in the wake of a presidential campaign, which suggests that any birth certificate work was a small percentage of the overall fees paid to Perkins Coie.

So, once again, another birther myth bites the dust.

 

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    Its a Kylism: not to be meant taken as factual.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. mantis says:

    Don’t tell Jay Tea. He’s been pushing that one for months. He’s not a birther though, and don’t you call him one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    And queue goalpost moving in 3…2…1…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Southern Hoosier says:

    Important Difference Between a Certificate – vs. Certification – of Live Birth
    I am not trying to sort out the broader issue of President Obama being born in the United States or not. However, I do want to point out a small, yet important, point regarding the names of documents flying around this issue; a point that even Donald Trump oversees.

    President Obama produced a Certification – not a Certificate – of Live Birth. While both are accepted as “birth certificates” in HI, some interesting information would be learned if one reads the websites of Hawaii’s Deportment of Health and of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/04/important_difference_between_a.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. jwest says:

    Doug,

    Thanks for clearing that up. I feel a lot better knowing that it wasn’t Obama’s millions fighting the release of the birth certificate. It was the taxpayers money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  6. tom p says:

    President Obama produced a Certification – not a Certificate – of Live Birth.

    Wow… I am so happy to have the difference explained to me…

    Really, do you people sit up at night coming up with this sh*t? I suggest sleep. Your dreams might be far more instructive…. Than again, ……

    not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  7. Jay Tea says:

    We interpret the quotations by Trump and Palin to mean payments made by Obama in a personal capacity, not in cases where he’s represented in an official capacity by government lawyers.

    At least this assumption is put up front, but it’s a deliberately misleading one. It should come as no surprise that Obama’s spending on this issue was not his money, but ours. He, like most liberals, are exceptionally generous when it’s not coming out of their own pockets directly.

    Kind of like, I guess, how our military “was volunteered” for air strikes on Libya.

    I think the only time I got really worked up over this was when the NY Times and a few others decided to challenge John McCain’s eligibility for the presidency, based on the circumstances of his birth. At that point, my attitude was “OK, let’s get these SOBs to live by their own standards here, and apply the same rules and scrutiny to both parties! Make Obama present the exact same level of documentation they’re demanding of McCain, based on his being born in the Panama Canal Zone while his father was assigned there as part of his service in the US Navy.”

    That’s the only time I recall getting overly incensed about the issue itself. The rest of the time, I’ve only gotten worked up about the possessed putzes who are STILL pushing the “birther” arguments about Obama’s legal qualifications to hold office. They, I’ve kicked around on several occasions.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  8. ratufa says:

    Here’s some photos of his Obama’s birth “certification”, which says that his place of birth is Honolulu:

    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html

    Here’s the 2009 statement by Hawaii’s directory of public health:

    http://hawaii.gov/health/about/pr/2009/09-063.pdf

    which says:

    “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.”

    Of course, it’s not logically impossible that all of the naysayers are either in on the plot or dupes. Just like it’s not logically impossible that all of the birthers are either working for the Democrats in a plot to discredit Republicans or are dupes. Perhaps I am in on the plot or one of the naysaying dupes. Or, maybe I’m an agent for the Republicans, making anti-birther arguments in an attempt to get the Democrats’ agent provocateur birthers to speak up so I can identify them. That would make sense, since a “ratufa” is a type of squirrel and squirrels rove around in search of nuts, and Karl Rove is…Oh, crap, I’ve said too much. My handlers won’t be happy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. sam says:

    “It should come as no surprise that Obama’s spending on this issue was not his money, but ours. He, like most liberals, are exceptionally generous when it’s not coming out of their own pockets directly.”

    Seriously? Here we have a sitting president of the United States being sued on an issue that goes to his legitimacy as president. That’s to say, the lawsuits have the potential of bringing about a constitutional crisis. What is he, as a sitting president, supposed to do in response? Why should he not use government funds to defend his presidency from loony attempts to destroy it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  10. “I don’t care. Obama is awesome.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  11. John Peabody says:

    Doug, et al, please STOP saying ANYTHING about birther junk. The deniers will never be satisfied, and each re-telling of the story, no matter the content, is convincing others that it is a real issue. The number of birthers has GROWN since 2008. Why doesn’t the President demand that the “long form” be released? Because every re-telling of the birther story makes the Republicans look like idiots. Please, for the love of Mike, just….please…stop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  12. Southern Hoosier says:

    ratufa says:
    Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 19:16

    Here’s some photos of his Obama’s birth “certification”, which says that his place of birth is Honolulu:

    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html

    Yeah it is a nice website, but I can’t help but wonder why only the Annenberg Foundation , a liberal group, was given access to Comrade Obama, the Great One, birth certificate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. jd says:

    They cared enough about the truth to ask?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Dave says:

    Yeah it is a nice website, but I can’t help but wonder why only the Annenberg Foundation , a liberal group, was given access to Comrade Obama, the Great One, birth certificate.

    The certificate was offered to a number of news organizations, including all major national newspapers, all three network nightly broadcasts, and all major cable networks. Images of the certificate are all over the place, including at the top of this blog post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Wiley Stoner says:

    Ah, the religion of Obama’s birth. There is no evidence to absolutely prove he was born in Hawaii. There is some evidence someone tried to make it appear as though he was. Interesting it would be published in two news papers days after the event. It becomes a religion when you have to go on faith. That is what all you folk who believe the proven liar are doing. You accept no evidence of the contrary and call those who ask for evidence names. What are you hiding? Either it exists or not. If you cannot prove it, step down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  16. Wiley Stoner says:

    Once again, notice on the bottom of the certification. It states fathers race. African was not how black people were referred to in 1961. Anyone born in Africa could be African. White people born ins South Africa were African. I believe negro was the term used to describe the race of what we now call African/Americans. Odd the document in question would try to be politically correct way before anyone knew what politically correct was. Maybe we should check the type on the document to see if that type existed in 1961. Seems the left is not above playing fast and loose with truth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. anjin-san says:

    Palin has pretty much drifted into orly taitz territory. But, the crazier the shit she talks is, the more the Jay Tea’s and S Hosers of the world will send her checks. You can make a good living fleecing the rubes…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  18. MarkedMan says:

    Wiley, you are funny. All that stuff about how African Americans were referred to in 1961 is really very interesting and no doubt proof of a conspiracy of some sort, but the fact is that Obama’s father was… African. Not African-American.

    And here’s where we get right down to the crux of things: to a birther, the fact that his father’s race was listed as “African” is proof that the certificate must be considered a fake. Because lord knows “African” is not a race, and any real nurse in Hawaii in 1961 would know that, and would be incapable of making such a mistake. So the only logical conclusion is that it was Obama’s secret birth certificate ninjas who made the mistake when they were cooking up the phony birth COLB in a University of Hawaii copy center in the middle of the night.

    Yeah. Obama would be an idiot to release anything more or discuss this in any way. Because no matter what he says or does, this is the mentality of a birther. To them, proof is only evidence of the seriousness of their case, because the better the proof, the more work must have gone into the forgery and voila! All that work is proof that Obama is not the legitimate president of the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Jay Tea says:

    I think the African Americans I despise most are Alice Krige and Charlize Theron…
    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Hey Norm says:

    Just another lie from Sarah palin…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. george says:

    Wiley, you are funny. All that stuff about how African Americans were referred to in 1961 is really very interesting and no doubt proof of a conspiracy of some sort, but the fact is that Obama’s father was… African. Not African-American.

    I was thinking the same thing. But trying to convince a birther that Obama was born in Hawaii is like trying to convince a truther that Bush wasn’t behind the twin towers – waste of effort.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. mantis says:

    I think the African Americans I despise most are Alice Krige and Charlize Theron…

    Neither of them are Americans. Even your jokes are factually challenged.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Jay Tea says:

    You just can’t quit me, can you, mantis?

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. mantis says:

    You just can’t quit me, can you, mantis?

    I was doing fine ignoring you completely and commenting regularly here. Then you started spending an awful lot of time here. Why is that? Don’t you like your own blog?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Southern Hoosier says:

    Dave says: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 22:06

    Yeah it is a nice website, but I can’t help but wonder why only the Annenberg Foundation , a liberal group, was given access to Comrade Obama, the Great One, birth certificate.

    The certificate was offered to a number of news organizations, including all major national newspapers, all three network nightly broadcasts, and all major cable networks. Images of the certificate are all over the place, including at the top of this blog post.

    True, but the certificate that was offered to a number of news organizations, including all major national newspapers, all three network nightly broadcasts, and all major cable networks were all the same one from Obama. It is the one with the number blacked out. Outside of Obama, only the Annenberg Foundation was given access to the original record. Theirs is the one without the blacked out numbers. They also released closeups and pictures of the backside, which Obama did not.

    What I am simply pointing out is, no independent group has had access to Obama’s birth record to verify it’s authenticity. All that has been released is photo copies made by Obama or his supporters.

    Remember the The Killian documents? They were allegedly official records about GW’s National Guard service. Turned out to be be forgeries. All birthers are asking for is independent verification. Is that to much to ask from a president that campaign on having the most open and transparent administration in history?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Chad S says:

    Southern Hoosier: the GOP governor of Hawaii in 2008 personally inspected the birth certificate and stated that it shows the exact same thing that the document Obama released says. That should be good enough for everyone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Southern Hoosier says:

    Chad S says: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 11:52
    Southern Hoosier: the GOP governor of Hawaii in 2008 personally inspected the birth certificate and stated that it shows the exact same thing that the document Obama released says. That should be good enough for everyone.

    I find this a bit confusing.

    Dr. Chiy­ome Fukino, the for­mer direc­tor of Hawaii’s Depart­ment of Health, in a rare tele­phone inter­view with NBC said the orig­i­nal so-​​called “long form” birth cer­tifi­cate — described by Hawai­ian offi­cials as a “record of live birth” — absolutely exists, located in a bound vol­ume in a file cab­i­net on the first floor of the state Depart­ment of Health.

    They are talking about seeing the long form. but it was the short form that was released.

    the com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor for the state’s then Repub­li­can gov­er­nor, Linda Lin­g (who appointed Fukino) asked if she could make a pub­lic state­ment in response to claims then cir­cu­lat­ing on the Inter­net that Obama was actu­ally born in Kenya.l

    According to this story the governor never saw it, the communications director released a statement based on what Fukino said without ever seeing it.

    She (Fukino) found the orig­i­nal birth record, prop­erly num­bered, half typed and half hand­writ­ten,

    What was released was not half written and half typed.

    But Wisch, the spokesman for the attor­ney general’s office, said state law does not in fact per­mit the release of “vital records,” includ­ing an orig­i­nal “record of live birth” — even to the indi­vid­ual whose birth it records.

    http://moronia.us/front/2011/04/hawaii-health-official-says-she-and-gop-governor-saw-obamas-birth-record/
    Doesn’t sounds like any type of independent verification to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Chad S says:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthcertificate.asp

    The state confirms the existence of the original BC and that it confirms that he was born in Hawaii. End of story. Or should be, except I’m sure you’ll come up with some new “lost in translation” routine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Jay Tea says:

    Then you started spending an awful lot of time here. Why is that? Don’t you like your own blog?

    ‘Cuz sometimes it’s fun to be just a commenter. I also write at several other sites, under different names, that has nothing to do with politics. I’m just too awesome to be contained.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. mantis says:

    Just as long as you understand I’m not seeking you out at all. If you vanished from the blogosphere forever tomorrow, I wouldn’t give it a thought, Jay. You overestimate your own importance in the minds of others. To me you’re just another wingnut liar.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Southern Hoosier says:

    Chad S says: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 12:50

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthcertificate.asp

    The state confirms the existence of the original BC and that it confirms that he was born in Hawaii. End of story. Or should be, except I’m sure you’ll come up with some new “lost in translation” routine.

    Bull! Try again. The short form that was released was never verified by anyone from Hawaii. The long form that was never released was only verified by Dr. Chiy­ome Fukino, the for­mer direc­tor of Hawaii’s Depart­ment of Health and some unknown bureaucrat .

    Doesn’t sounds like any type of independent verification to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Chad S says:

    To see what’s in front of one’s face requires a constant struggle apparently. The state of Hawaii verifies it. That should be good enough for anyone with a functioning brain stem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Southern Hoosier says:

    Chad S says: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 13:47
    To see what’s in front of one’s face requires a constant struggle apparently. The state of Hawaii verifies it. That should be good enough for anyone with a functioning brain stem.

    Verified what? Something that no one can see? How convenient. In God we trust, but Obama is not god, regardless of what you people think.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Southern Hoosier says:

    At least we know now that the Republican governor never saw it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. mantis says:

    I’ve had it independently verified that Southern Hoosier is a moron.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Neil Hudelson says:

    I have it under good authority, as a true southern Hoosier, that Southern Hoosier isn’t even from Indiana. The long form birth certificate clearly states Kentucky as the birthplace. The fact that we can’t see this certificate and hasn’t been independently verified by me, only proves that SH is hiding something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Chad S says:

    The part in the Snopes piece which said that the director of the state dept of health personally verified that Obama’s original birth certificate confirms the document is valid and says that he was born in Hawaii contradicts your stupidity…I mean opinion on this Souther hossier.

    What’s your next poor attempt at spin?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. Southern Hoosier says:

    Neil Hudelson says: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 14:21
    The long form birth certificate clearly states Kentucky as the birthplace. The fact that we can’t see this certificate and hasn’t been independently verified by me, only proves that SH is hiding something.

    If you can’t see it, how do you know it says Kentucky? LOL
    Yeah, I do have a lot to hide, but it’s not my birthplace. You got to be from around Bloomington where all the liberals are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Southern Hoosier says:

    Did you guys trust Pres Bush or Dick” Cheney? Probably not. And you want me to trust Dr. Chiy­ome Fukino? Sure thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Socrates says:

    “Remember the The Killian documents? They were allegedly official records about GW’s National Guard service. Turned out to be be forgeries.”

    This is widely suspected, but you say this as if it is a fact.

    So, prove it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Chad S says:

    I trusted Bush and voted for him twice. This is still a pathetic response on your part. Anyone who is a birther is a moron. Simple as that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. Southern Hoosier says:

    The panel has not been able to conclude with absolute certainty whether the Killian documents are authentic or forgeries. However, the panel has identified a number of issues that raise serious questions about the authenticity of the documents and their content. With better reporting, these questions should have been raised before the Sept. 8 segment aired.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/11/business/media/11excerpts.html

    Four of these documents were presented as authentic in a 60 Minutes Wednesday broadcast aired by CBS on September 8, 2004, less than two months before the 2004 Presidential Election, but it was later found that CBS had failed to authenticate the documents. Subsequently, several typewriter and typography experts concluded the documents are forgeries, as have some media sources. No forensic document examiners or typography experts have authenticated the documents, and this may not be technically possible without original documents. The provider of the documents, Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, claims to have burned the originals after faxing copies to CBS.

    http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/31190

    No forensic document examiners or typography experts have authenticated the documents, and this may not be technically possible without original documents.
    Sounds like Comrade Obama, the Great One’s, birth record.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Southern Hoosier says:

    Chad S says: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 16:07
    I trusted Bush and voted for him twice.

    I voted for him the first time, then I realized that the was a New England liberal blue blood that ran as a conservative Texas good o’boy in order to get elected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Chad S says:

    No one has claimed that any documents offered by Obama are false. Except by moron birthers like yourself.

    So, is this your strategy on blogs? To constantly filibuster comments with empty responses until people move on?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. Southern Hoosier says:

    Chad S says: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 17:01
    No one has claimed that any documents offered by Obama are false. Except by moron birthers like yourself.

    It’s not a question of them being false or not, but the lack of independent verification.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. Neil Hudelson says:

    Sorry SH, I’m in the true heart of southern Indiana. Nothing but farmland and rolling hills where I live.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. [...] No, President Obama Hasn’t Spent “Millions” To Keep His Birth Certificate Private (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0