HONOLULU— – The State of Arizona has officially accepted President Barack Obama's birth records, ending a highly publicized, and highly controversial, "fishing trip" by Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arizona state officials.
The announcement came Tuesday, by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who said he received information from Hawaii that proves President Obama's American birth and satisfies Arizona's requirements for having the president on the upcoming election ballot, reports azcentral.com, putting an end to a nearly three-month back and forth that Arizona officials said could have ended without the incumbent's name on its November ballot.
Joshua Wisch, special assistant to Hawaii Attorney General David Louie, told The Associated Press in an email late Tuesday that the matter is resolved after Hawaii gave Arizona the verification it was looking for.
Hawaii — which has vouched for Obama's birth in the state several times as early as October 2008 — didn't bow to the request easily. The Aloha State told Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett he had to prove he needed the records as part of normal business.
Wisch says Hawaii got what it needed, so it gave Bennett's office the verification.
It's not immediately clear whether the information will satisfy Bennett. Bennett spokesman Matthew Roberts said the office received the verification and planned to comment Wednesday.
Roberts did not say whether the information would end the flap with Obama's name on the ballot.
Bennett said during a radio interview earlier Tuesday that he had reworded his request to Hawaii and expected to get a response within two days.
The development came the same day Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio defended sending one of his deputies to Hawaii to accompany an official in his volunteer posse that is investigating Obama's birth certificate, despite earlier saying no taxpayer money was being spent on the probe.
The sheriff said Tuesday that taxpayers won't ultimately foot the bill because the posse, which so far has used $40,000 in donations to pay for the probe, will reimburse his office for the deputy's trip to Hawaii this week.
Arpaio said the deputy who was sent to Hawaii was there for security reasons, which the sheriff declined to discuss.
"Even if it was costing the taxpayers money, we are talking about a criminal investigation into possible fraud and forgery on government documents," the sheriff said.
The sheriff launched the investigation last summer and said in March that there was probable cause to believe Obama's long-form birth certificate, released by the White House more than a year ago, is a computer-generated forgery and that the president's Selective Service card was most likely a forgery.
Speculation about Obama's birthplace has swirled among conservatives for years. So-called "birthers" maintain that Obama is ineligible to hold the country's highest elected office because, they contend, he was born in Kenya, his father's homeland.
Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama's citizenship, and Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate more than a year ago in an attempt to quell citizenship questions. Courts also have rebuffed lawsuits over the issue.
The Arizona Republic first reported that Arpaio had sent the deputy to Hawaii.
Democratic state Sen. Steve Gallardo, a critic of the sheriff, said Arpaio has misplaced priorities when he focuses on the president's birth certificate, while his own office had failed to adequately investigate hundreds of sex-crimes cases over a three-year period ending in 2007.
"The cost of this trip to Hawaii ought to come out of this re-election campaign because this is politics," Gallardo said. "It's political grandstanding."
Arpaio said health officials in Hawaii refused to talk to his deputy and posse investigator on Monday, though an assistant attorney general came out to talk to the investigators.
"They won't have anything to do with us," Arpaio said.
Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Hawaii State Department of Health, said two men dressed in business suits from Arpaio's department sat down with deputies from the health department and attorney general's office in a conference room Monday.
The men identified themselves as being from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and provided their badges and business cards when asked, Okubo said.
"They said they were conducting an investigation," Okubo said.
Okubo said the Hawaii officials told the men they had to show why they needed the information as part of ordinary business — a response similar to that given to Bennett last week when he publicly pushed his request.
Associated Press writers Paul Davenport and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.