Sheriff Joe: Birther investigation is 'favor' to Obama

The White House released the president's birth certificate last year

By Jim Acosta
St. Joseph News-Press

PHOENIX — Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, briefed GOP contender Rick Santorum on his investigation into President Barack Obama's birth certificate, the controversial law enforcement official told reporters Tuesday.

After a speech to a Republican gathering in Phoenix where Santorum appeared earlier in the day, Arpaio explained he wanted to inform the candidate of his investigation "as a matter of fairness in case he wouldn't want me to support him."

Arpaio said he plans to endorse one of the four remaining GOP candidates in the coming weeks. But the sheriff added he would not make his choice known before he announces the findings of his birth certificate probe at a news conference set for March 1st. This endorsement would be his second in the race; in November 2011, he endorsed then-candidate Rick Perry.

Santorum, he said, seemed to have no problem with the nature of his investigation.

"He had no problems with what I told him that I may be doing," Arpaio told reporters.

The sheriff said he is conducting the investigation after receiving requests from "the tea party."

Arpaio added he believes he is doing the president a favor.

"I really started this on the theory that maybe I could clear this mess up," Arpaio told reporters. "Wouldn't it be nice for me to do that?"

The White House released the president's birth certificate last year. Officials in Hawaii where Obama was born have verified its authenticity.

A federal Department of Justice investigation into Arpaio's office made public in December described "a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos at MCSO that reaches the highest levels of the agency."

He dismissed the allegations as a politically-driven "witch hunt."

Copyright 2012 St. Joseph News-Press

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