An Open Letter to Dr. Orly Taitz and Her Readers

An Open Letter:

My name is Justin Riggs. I am the individual who manages the http://www.yourfellowcitizen.com blog. Last night, I posted a letter from Senator Lamar Alexander's office on my blog. Within hours, it was reposted on several websites.

Unfortunately, on Dr. Taitz' blog, the story was grossly misreported. If you stop to read the letter, you will see that Senator Alexander has NOT contacted the FBI regarding Mr. Obama's citizenship status. One of Mr. Alexander's staff has forwarded on a request that my anonymous source submitted, and we are awaiting further response.

I therefore request that the story be updated or re-posted with accurate information, in order that the integrity of this story might be maintained. I have absolute confidence that that once Dr. Taitz becomes aware of the situation, she will rectify it immediately. Thank you for your time, and for your consideration of my request.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

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I have included the entire post from yesterday for those who are interested in the original story:

My anonymous source in Tennessee heard back from Lamar Alexander's office earlier this week. A staff member was kind enough to forward his/her request for information on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, so hopefully we'll have more to report in the not too distant future.

Please note: I have digitally altered this document by removing all information that could identify my source, or the staff member working for Senator Alexander. Everything else remains intact.

Lamar Alexander FBI Contacted

Here was our original letter to the Senator's office:

1st Response to Senator Alexander

More from Tennessee - Waiting to be Contacted by the FBI

My anonymous source in Tennessee heard back from Lamar Alexander's office earlier this week. A staff member was kind enough to forward his/her request for information on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, so hopefully we'll have more to report in the not too distant future.

Please note: I have digitally altered this document by removing all information that could identify my source, or the staff member working for Senator Alexander. Everything else remains intact.

Lamar Alexander FBI Contacted

Here was our original letter to the Senator's office:

1st Response to Senator Alexander

Tennessee Senator "Investigation has Been Done - Obama is Eligible"

Yesterday, I received a letter from an anonymous source that had a letter from TN Senator Lamar Alexander attached to it. In the letter, it states:

Lamar_Alexander_Letter - No Address

The letter was dated January 5th, on what appeared to be authentic letterhead, and the signature matched the signature posted on the Senator's website. Other, similar letters have also popped up on the Internet, from what I can gather.

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Here's our response:

Response to Lamar Alexander

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BIG TIP - Commission on Presidential Debates

Today I received the following document from an anonymous tipster who only wanted to be known as "super sleuth from Florida". If you scroll down to the bottom of page 1, you'll see how important this document is. It's only the 2nd document I've seen where an entity other than the candidate himself states that the candidate is Constitutionally eligible. In this case, the Commission of Presidential Debates says that before any candidate can be eligible to debate, he/she have to prove to CPD that they meet the Constitutional requirements. Here's the document, followed by the letter I wrote the Executive Director.

Commission on Presidential Debates

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Ms. Brown,

On your web page (http://www.debates/org/pages/candsel2008.html) it says that "the CPD will apply three criteria to each declared candidate to determine whether that candidate qualifies for inclusion in one or more of the CPD's debates." Could you help me better understand how that process works?

What I'm most interested in is how the CPD determines whether or not a candidate is Constitutionally eligible. The site says that the candidate has to meet the requirements of Article II, Section I of the Constitution - I'm wondering what documentation the candidate has to present to the CPD in order for the CPD to confirm the candidate has met the requirements, and is therefore eligible to debate.

Any and all documentation you have regarding this process and the procedures around it would be gratefully accepted - and a list of the documents the candidate must present to the CPD would be the most helpful, if you can release it.

Thank you for your time, and for your willingness to help at the beginning of this New Year.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Craig Donsanto, Co-Author of Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses

Based on a tip from a reader, I contacted, Mr. Donsanto, and had an interesting conversation with him. Here is the full text:

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Mr. Donsanto,

A group of concerned citizens has asked that I write you a letter in an attempt to receive some clarification in regards to what your office does and does not do.

As you are likely aware, the two major-party candidates in this year's presidential election both had questions about their eligibility raised. Because of this, many Americans took it upon themselves to research this topic, and what we have found concerns us. Let me provide you with a brief three point overview of what has been discovered.

1) Nearly every Secretary of State in the country has been contacted, and the unanimous consensus voiced by those officials is that it the legal responsibility for ensuring that candidates are eligible lies with the political party.

2) Documents have been procured which show that high-ranking officials from both major political parties have signed sworn statements that their candidates for President and Vice President are eligible to serve as President and Vice President under the provisions of the United States Constitution. Please see the attached document to view these forms.

3) When approached, the party organizations have refused to release the documents that were used in making a determination of eligibility. This leaves the public with no way of confirming or denying whether or not a candidate is eligible to serve in the office for which he/she is running. Obviously, no citizen can cast an informed vote without access to information about whether or not the candidate is eligible.

My questions for you, then, are:

1) Does your agency have the ability to investigate whether or not candidates were properly placed on the ballot - specifically, to look into whether or not the candidates were eligible under the provisions of the Constitution.

2) Is there any legal way for the citizens of this country to procure the documents that the political parties used to make their determinations of eligibility?

3) If it is not within your power to investigate this matter, could you point us in the right direction as to who might be able to help us discover whether or not the candidates are/were eligible to serve as President.

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

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Q1.

No

Q2.

Answer to question is not within my area of professional competence as it does not implicate potential federal crimes within the juriscition on my office.

Q3.

Same answer as Q2.

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Mr. Donsanto,

Thank you very much for your prompt and courteous reply. Two more questions for you and your colleagues to make sure I understand, and then I'll move on:

1) Is it fair to say that according to the Seventh Edition of the "Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses", being an ineligible candidate and/or placing an ineligible candidate upon the ballot are not "election offenses"?

2) Are you aware of any government agency that has oversight over the political parties, to ensure that their determination of eligibility (for their presidential candidates) is valid?

Thank you again for your time. It is much appreciated.

Justin

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Q1. It depends.

Q2. Not personally.

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I'm going to need to continue this correspondence tomorrow, and figure out what the "it depends" means. I'll let you know when I do...

Follow-up with Joseph Sandler, Chief Legal Counsel for the Democratic National Committee

This correspondence had an email, with a document attached to it. First the email:

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Mr. Sandler,

I've been told that you're office is the correct one to forward this correspondence to. Please find attached some questions regarding the potential release of documents to the public from the DNC. Thank you very much for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

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Dear Mr. Sandler,

Please allow me to thank you for your prompt and courteous reply to my records request. While I disagree with your assessment of the situation, I respect your judgment, and will proceed with my inquiry through the proper channels.

I thank you for the information regarding the various State Party's Delegate Selection Plans for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Please know that many of those documents have been reviewed by myself and other concerned citizens. We have also contacted a large number of Secretaries of State, who have unanimously told us that it is the legal responsibility of the political party to ensure that the candidates they put forth for election are legally qualified to serve in the office they are seeking; hence our decision to contact you.

I hope you won't consider it impertinent of me to ask you to clear up some confusion on my part. To the best of my knowledge, each of the State Party's Delegate Selection Plans must comply with the policies, procedures, and rules that are put forth in the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2008 Democratic National Convention that was adopted by the Democratic National Committee on August 19th of last year. In that document, under heading 12 (Presidential Preference), rule K, it states:

1. Based on the right of the Democratic Party to freely assemble and to determine the criteria for its candidates, it is determined that all candidates for the Democratic nomination for President or Vice President shall:

a. be registered to vote, and shall have been registered to vote in the last election for the office of President and Vice President; and

b. have demonstrated a commitment to the goals and objectives of the Democratic Party as determined by the National Chair and will participate in the Convention in good faith.

2. It is further determined that these requirements are in addition to the requirements set forth by the United States Constitution and any law of the United States.

This document leads me to believe that there are policies and procedures that have been established by the party in which a candidate is determined to be legally qualified to hold office. As far as I am able to determine, each of these necessary qualification could be established by the presentation of documentary evidence. I am hopeful that the party will be willing to share this information with the public because in the Delegate Selection Rules it also states, under the heading An Open Party: “The Democratic Party in each state should publicize fully and in such a manner as to assure notice to all interested parties a full description of the legal and practical procedures for selection of Democratic Party officers and representatives on all levels”. I have made this request of my state party, and was rebuffed – perhaps the national party organization is willing to receive a “full description of the legal and practical procedures” for the selection of the Democratic Party's presidential nominee for the office of President of the United States of America. Is there any circumstance under which the Democratic National Party would be willing to share this information with the public? Is there any circumstance under which the party would be willing to share with the public the evidence that was considered in making the determination that Mr. Obama was legally eligible to serve as President under the provisions of the United States Constitution and the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2008 Democratic National Convention?

Finally, please know that I come to you in a spirit of cooperation and, hopefully, coordinated effort. I am anything but a litigious person, and am willing to exhaust any and all necessary efforts to bring this information to light before considering the option of petitioning the judicial branch of our governmental system. I wish you the very best, and eagerly await your response.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Blake Hall, RNC General Counsel

Since I'm interested in how all presidential candidates get certified as eligible, I contacted the RNC's General Counsel. The letter I sent him is substantively the same as the one I sent to the DNC.

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Justin W. Riggs
(my personal info)

January 5, 2009

OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL
Blake Hall
Republican National Committee
310 First Street
Washington, D.C. 20003
Phone: 202-863-8500
info@gop.org


RECORDS REQUEST

Dear Records Request Officer:

Pursuant to the state open records act, I request access to and copies of any and all documents used to determine the eligibility of John McCain to serve as President of the United States under the provisions of the Constitution of the United States of America in the 2008 primaries and general election. While the RNC is a private, non-profit organization, several courts have held that such organizations fall under the jurisdiction of their respective state open records acts, particularly when they are performing a government function or are functionally a government agency (see Gannon and Nichols v. The Board of Regents of the State of Iowa and Kimberly Kay Allen v. John Day for examples of these types of rulings). I therefore request that this request be granted in all due haste.

Because this request is for public, non-commercial use, I request that any fee be waived. If a fee is required, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with the amount, at which time I will decide to pursue or cancel my request.

If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I would also remind you that the act stipulates that you respond to this request in a timely fashion. I request that the document be mailed either electronically (a readable scan of the documents is sufficient) or through the postal service, no later than noon, January 22nd. If this is not possible, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with a time and a date by which I can expect to receive the documents.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

District of Columbia - Office of the Secretary

A short message to confirm whether or not the laws are the same in D.C. as they are in all the other states:

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I am conducting some research in which I have been contacting the various Secretaries of State across the country, asking them who is responsible in their state for ensuring that presidential candidates are eligible to run for office. Would you please provide me with a brief description of the policy of the D.C. Office of the Secretary on this matter. I sincerely appreciate it. Thank you again for your time, and I hope you are enjoying a wonderful New Year.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

University of Michigan University Library

UM has one of the finest collections of information regarding everything presidential, so some time ago, I sent them a message. I was surprised and delighted when I heard back from them. Unfortunately, they had no new information that I could use. Here is the text of the message they sent:

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Dear Justin:
Happy new year, and my apologies for keeping you waiting regarding
your question about presidential qualifications.

The U.S. Constitution states the qualifications of an individual to
become president
(http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articleii.html#section1):

"No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United
States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be
eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be
eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of
thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the
United States. "

There is no mention of how to prove these qualifications, however.

From what I have found, last year Philip Berg filed suit against
various parties claiming that Barack Obama was ineligible to be
president; that suit was dismissed. He also tried to delay or stop the
national election, which obviously did not happen. You can find the
Federal Election Commision's (FEC) statement regarding these cases
here: http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation/berg_ac_fec_opp_emerg_mot.pdf

The statement above includes wording that the FEC "has no
responsibility for or oversight over the Constitution?s Presidential
Qualifications Clause," ruling out the FEC in answer to your question.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), on their FAQ
page
(http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/previous_questions.html)
, includes the question: Who verifies if a candidate is qualified to
run for President?

Their answer is to contact local state officials:

"The Office of the Federal Register at the National Archives and
Records Administration administers the Electoral College process,
which takes place after the November general election. The Office of
the Federal Register does not have the authority to handle issues
related to the general election, such as candidate qualifications.
People interested in this issue may wish to contact their state
election officials or their Congressional Representatives.

Because the process of qualifying for the election and having a
candidate's name put on the ballot varies from state to state, you
should contact your state's top election officer for more information.
In most states, the Secretary of State is the official responsible for
oversight of state elections, including the presidential election.
Visit the National Secretaries of State web site to locate contact
information and web addresses for the Secretary of State from each
state and the District of Columbia.

Under federal law an objection to a state's electoral votes may be
made to the President of the Senate during Congress's counting of
electoral votes in January. The objection must be made in writing and
signed by at least one Senator and one member of the House of
Representatives. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives
debate the objection separately. Debate is limited to two hours. After
the debate, both the Senate and the House of Representatives rejoin
and both must agree to reject the votes."

Based on this statement, it would seem that you are contacting the
correct parties. You may also want to contact the Sec of State's
office in Illinois: http://www.sos.state.il.us/

I am sorry I do not have a conclusive answer for you! Good luck with
your research.

Best,
Shevon
Ask a Librarian staff

Your original question: I've been trying to ascertain how a presidential candidate's eligibility is determined, specifically regarding the qualifications set out in Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution.


Thank you for using Ask a Librarian, a reference service of the University of Michigan University Library!

A Hand Delivered Letter to Nancy Pelosi?

I received an interesting letter from an an unnamed source today. This person wrote:

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If you want to draft a letter to NP (Nancy Pelosi) regarding the differences in the HI DNC Certification, I have someone who will hand-deliver this to NP in D.C.

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Obviously, I jumped at the offer. Here's the letter I wrote:

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January 2nd, 2009

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
Washington, D.C. Office
235 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
202.225.4965


Congresswoman Pelosi,

First, please allow me the opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year, and express my gratitude for the chance to present this letter to you. I know that you are an extremely busy woman, and I will seek to be as brief and to the point as possible.

On the 22nd of December last year, I received a document from the Hawaii Office of Elections that included an Official Certification of Nomination from the Democratic Party that bears your signature on it. On that document, it states in part that: “the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States (referring to Barack Obama and Joe Biden, respectively) are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution.” I was interested in this document because it was different from all the other Certifications of Nomination which I have received, which simply state that the candidates had been nominated at the convention. I am assuming that this difference is a result of Section 11-113 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which stipulates that the political party of a candidate must provide a statement that the candidate is legally qualified to serve as President under the provisions of the United States Constitution.

As I'm sure you know, there has been some concern on the part of the citizens of this country that Mr. Obama is not eligible to hold the office of President; and, as of yet, no evidence has been made available to the public that would allow for a determination of eligibility to be made. Because you signed your name to this document, I have been asked by other concerned citizens to make a request that you provide us access to and copies of any documents that you used when making a determination of eligibility regarding Mr. Obama's qualifications to serve as President of the United States of America.

Again, I thank you for your time, and eagerly await your response.


Sincerely Yours,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs
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If I hear anything, I'll post it right away...

Response From the Democratic National Committee Regarding Document Request

Thanks to many new friends from the Plains Radio Network, I received a response to my document request today (note: the request came through others, not directly to my request). It looks like the request has been forwarded on to the legal department for review. Here's a sampling of the emails that were sent by the DNC to various petitioners (I've redacted the names of all senders for the privacy of those involved).

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Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate department.

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and then:

Already received several duplicate copies. Forwarded to the appropriate department.

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in response to a question about what department the correspondence was sent to, the DNC replied:

Legal.

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So we've made progress. We should hear back relatively soon, I would hope. I'll post something here as soon as there's news fit to print...
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