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Sheriff Arpaio Sends Publicly Funded Deputy To Hawaii On 'Birther' Hunt

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2011.
Ross D. Franklin
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2011.

It seems there's not a month that goes by that Maricopa (Ariz.) County Sheriff Joe Arpaio isn't involved in one controversy or another.

As we've reported, Arpaio is already facing a federal civil rights lawsuit.

But now there's news that Arpaio is using public money on his quest to investigate President Obama's birth certificate. Both the Arizona Republic and Honolulu Star Advertiser report that Arpaio sent his deputy, Brian Mackiewcz, to Hawaii in part because of what Arpaio said were "security issues," related to the investigation.

The Republic reports:

"'It's one deputy, so what? We have security issues, too, that I can't got into,' Arpaio said on Friday. 'For six months we were not spending any money. When you're doing investigations sometimes things change, you put more resources into it.'" ...

"The detective assigned to the Obama investigation works in the sheriff's threats unit, and continues to work on other cases while assisting with the posse's investigation, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"'He's not going to make any arrests,' Arpaio said. 'I didn't say we're going to keep using him. We're not going to use him constantly. He's not assigned to it. For this trip I feel it's important to have a deputy there. He's just a liaison to give advice if needed. He's not doing anything. The posse's been doing the research. I'm not going to say what other trips they've been taking but they haven't had a deputy with them.'

The Advertiser reported that two men — one of them Mackiewcz — went to the Hawaii Department of Health requesting verification of Obama's birth certificate. The department already issued that certificate at the president's request. They also released a statement in which the Hawaii health director said she had certified the copy.

In a news conference back in March, Arpaio said he had undertaken the investigation of Obama's residency using donations. At that same press conference, Arpaio presented evidence that the birth certificate was "computer generated forgery."

As we noted at the time, some of the evidence was very flimsy.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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