Tim Adams, “Senior Elections Clerk”

Tim Adams, Senior Elec­tions Clerk

Note: This report deals ONLY with Adams’ sto­ry about Pres­i­dent Obama’s birth cer­tifi­cate. Mr. Adams has a long and sor­did his­to­ry of writ­ing racist and oth­er offen­sive mate­ri­al on the Inter­net; for speci­fic exam­ples, please join our forum and read this thread in its entire­ty. We also sug­gest you read this excel­lent post by Ade­lante in Oh, For Good­ness’ Sake.

Tim Adams burst on the birther scene on D-Day, June 6, 2010, with a radio inter­view on the Polit­i­cal Cesspool, a white suprema­cist radio show. A YouTube of the inter­view may be found at the bot­tom of this page (note the adver­tise­ment of the white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tion Storm­front in the video).

Here’s a tran­script of the rel­e­vant parts of the inter­view:

(James Edwards host; co-host Bill Row­land. Some brief intro­duc­to­ry mate­ri­al omit­ted.)
Adams: I was Chief elec­tions clerk for the city and coun­ty of Hon­olu­lu on tem­po­rary con­tract. I ran an office that ver­i­fied voter eli­gi­bil­i­ty and had a staff of about 50 peo­ple. When this ques­tion came up, I had access to all the usu­al gov­ern­ment data­bas­es that peo­ple had to ver­i­fy iden­ti­ty, NCIS, Social Secu­ri­ty, all sorts of oth­er things that we use on aver­age vot­ers. There were two peo­ple high­er than me in our office, who were under the City Clerk of Hon­olu­lu, and the ques­tion came up about the birth cer­tifi­cate and about Pres­i­dent Obama’s birth­place. In our pro­fes­sion­al opin­ion, Barack Oba­ma was not born in the Unit­ed States, and there is no Hawaii long-form birth cer­tifi­cate.
Edwards: (com­ment on Adams’ rev­e­la­tions, then calls on Row­land) Bill?
Row­land: Well Tim, when this infor­ma­tion … was it pret­ty com­mon knowl­edge with­in that office that there was no, there was no long-form birth cer­tifi­cate?
Adams: It was open­ly admit­ted by every­one in the office who was above me, at least my imme­di­ate super­vi­sors, that there is no doc­u­men­ta­tion.
Row­land: For Oba­ma being a nat­u­ral­ized Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, born here with a birth cer­tifi­cate.
Adams: Barack Oba­ma was not born in Hawaii. 

Adams didn’t men­tion that the City & Coun­ty of Hon­olu­lu Elec­tions Office has no author­i­ty to inves­ti­gate the eli­gi­bil­i­ty of can­di­dates for nation­al office on the Hawaii bal­lot. He also failed to explain any details as to how a local elec­tions office would have access to the files of the state Depart­ment of Health. The sto­ry, such as it was, had a lot of holes.

Noneth­less, as may be imag­ined, Adams became an instant hero among the birthers. None of them ques­tioned why he brought this sto­ry first to a white suprema­cist radio show asso­ci­at­ed with Storm­front. None of them ques­tioned, and he nev­er did say, why he hadn’t come for­ward with this infor­ma­tion ear­lier. By June 6, 2010, the birther con­tro­ver­sy had already been fes­ter­ing for almost two years. As the birthers knew, by the time Adams came out with this sto­ry, there had already been two offi­cial press releas­es by the Hawaii Dept. of Health (here and here) which con­tra­dict­ed his ver­sion of the sto­ry, and the president’s Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Live Birth had been pho­tographed and pub­lished on sev­er­al web­sites.

World­Net­Dai­ly had the sto­ry by June 10, four days lat­er. More than sev­en months lat­er, on Jan. 20, 2011, Adams signed an affi­davit at the behest of World­Net­Dai­ly. See an excel­lent write-up about that inci­dent and the jour­nal­is­tic “ethics” of WND at Turn­ing the Scale. A copy of the affi­davit may be found at the bot­tom of this page. 

As you can see in the affi­davit, Adams’ sto­ry changed in sev­er­al ways over the sev­en months since he told it to the white suprema­cist radio hosts. By Jan­u­ary 2011, it turns out that Adams was only a senior elec­tions clerk, not the chief elec­tions clerk. He adds that no Hon­olu­lu hos­pi­tal has any record of Pres­i­dent Obama’s birth, and he says he worked “through Sep­tem­ber 2008,” not that he left in August. Most impor­tant, he now makes clear that he is relat­ing dou­ble hearsay:

 “Senior offi­cers in the City and Coun­ty of Hon­olu­lu Elec­tions Divi­sion (in oth­er words, local offi­cials) fur­ther told me on mul­ti­ple occa­sions that Hawaii State gov­ern­ment offi­cials had made inquires [sic] about Sen. Obama’s birth records …”

How do the local elec­tion offi­cials, who have no author­i­ty to check on the eli­gi­bil­i­ty of can­di­dates for nation­al office in any event, know what inquiries state offi­cials have made? The answer is left to the imag­i­na­tion of the read­er. Note also that this is not an affi­davit pre­pared in con­nec­tion with any pend­ing court case. In fact, Adams lat­er stat­ed that the affi­davit was pre­pared sole­ly by an attor­ney hired by World­Net­Dai­ly and he signed it fol­low­ing the instruc­tion of World­Net­Dai­ly staff.

But the most inter­est­ing thing about that affi­davit is that nowhere in the affi­davit does he sug­gest that his office par­tic­i­pat­ed in any search for the birth records. That would soon change. In fact, his speci­fic for­mu­la­tion in the affi­davit was that “[City/County offi­cials told me] that State gov­ern­ment offi­cials had made inquires [sic] about Sen. Obama’s birth records …” Not the City & Coun­ty of Hon­olu­lu Elec­tions Office.

On March 31, 2011, Adams appeared on the Real­i­ty Check Radio show, and some mem­bers of Fog­bow final­ly had a chance to explore his sto­ry fur­ther. Once again, the sto­ry he told dif­fered in sig­nif­i­cant details from pre­vi­ous ver­sions of the sto­ry. This time, he repeat­ed­ly claimed a star­tling new fact: It was his office after all that made the inquiries to the State Dept. of Health, to Queens Hos­pi­tal, and to Kapi’olani Hos­pi­tal. Sud­den­ly, he claimed that the City & Coun­ty of Hon­olu­lu Elec­tions Office, among oth­er duties, ver­i­fies the iden­ti­ty of can­di­dates for state and nation­al office before they appear on the state bal­lot. Unlike in the affi­davit he gave to World­Net­Dai­ly, the sto­ry is that it wasn’t state offi­cials who had tried to obtain Pres­i­dent Obama’s birth records, it was his own local office of elec­tions. Here are some quotes from the Real­i­ty Check Radio show:

ADAMS: Well, when the ques­tion about Barack Obama’s birth in Hawaii came up, our office – what we do is we ver­i­fy voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. We also ver­i­fy the iden­ti­ty of the can­di­dates that go on the state bal­lot. And so the lady that I report to, who we men­tioned ear­lier, that was part of their respon­si­bil­i­ty. They had to ver­i­fy the iden­ti­ty of the peo­ple who go on the state bal­lot. So when the ques­tions came up, we made inquiries, and the only thing we got back was, is, there are no doc­u­ments.

RC: All right, how would some­one be able to deter­mine from those data­bas­es that the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of live birth that was pro­duced was inac­cu­rate or wrong?
ADAMS: Well, from those data­bas­es we couldn’t, but what hap­pens is is that when they ask us to ver­i­fy the iden­ti­ty of the can­di­date that we have to go to the peo­ple who have the records, the Depart­ment of Health, Kapi­olani Hos­pi­tal, Queens Hos­pi­tal, and the answer we got back from them was they don’t have the records.

RC: Well, let me ask you some­thing. Isn’t it the job of the sec­re­tary of state, actu­al­ly con­trols bal­lot access in most states? Wouldn’t this have been the job of the sec­re­tary of state of Hawaii, not the elec­tion office?
ADAMS: Well, it was our job. It’s what we did. In some states the sec­re­tary of state would have done it direct­ly in their office, I sup­pose, but in Hawaii the iden­ti­ties are ver­i­fied through the Office of Elec­tions.

ADAMS: We had local can­di­dates who would bring in birth cer­tifi­cates and pass­ports and oth­er doc­u­ments to prove their iden­ti­ty. That was nor­mal.

There were sev­er­al oth­er men­tions of this new claim; a full tran­script of the March 31 radio show may be found here. But the sim­ple truth is, the local elec­tion office in which he worked has NO respon­si­bil­i­ty what­ev­er for check­ing the eli­gi­bil­i­ty of can­di­dates for nation­al office in a state elec­tion. This is why he nev­er made that claim pri­or to the March 31 radio show. From the “About Us” sec­tion of the elec­tion office web­site:

Con­duct­ing elec­tions involves: reg­is­ter­ing vot­ers, main­tain­ing the voter reg­is­tra­tion data­base on behalf of the four coun­ties and the State of Hawaii, main­tain­ing address data and dis­trict data; check­ing sig­na­tures on city candidate/initiative peti­tions; accept­ing can­di­date fil­ings; issu­ing and mail­ing absen­tee bal­lots; accept­ing, account­ing for, and pro­cess­ing returned bal­lots; estab­lish­ing walk in vot­ing loca­tions; The Office of the City Clerk also accepts finan­cial dis­clo­sure fil­ings of can­di­dates and City employ­ees and pro­vides cler­i­cal sup­port to the Hon­olu­lu City Coun­cil.

 As you can see by the above quotes, he also insist­ed that Queens Hos­pi­tal and Kapi­olani Hos­pi­tal both pos­i­tive­ly stat­ed to the local elec­tions office that they had no birth records for Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. That is not pos­si­ble, because of HIPAA. The only thing the hos­pi­tals could legal­ly say is, “Fed­er­al law pro­hibits us from dis­clos­ing any patient infor­ma­tion.” And the claim that the Dept. of Health report­ed that there was no birth cer­tifi­cate for Pres­i­dent Oba­ma in its files was specif­i­cal­ly con­tra­dict­ed by the Direc­tor of the Dept. of Health in the two offi­cial press releas­es linked above.

Curi­ous­ly, Adams offered no expla­na­tion how Pres­i­dent Oba­ma man­aged to be placed on the bal­lot in Hawaii, after the search for ver­i­fi­ca­tion of his iden­ti­ty came up emp­ty. Mr. Adams appar­ent­ly thinks the rea­son is that the pres­i­dent may have been born in the state of Kansas or the state of Wash­ing­ton.

Mr. Adams also stat­ed that:

  • He has nev­er seen the famous nine pho­tographs of the COLB that the FactCheck pho­tog­ra­phers took.
  • He had nev­er seen the press release by Chiy­ome Fuki­no stat­ing that she had seen the orig­i­nal records, that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma was born in Hawaii, and that he is there­fore a nat­u­ral born cit­i­zen.
  • Nev­er­the­less, he insist­ed that he knows the COLB that was released by Pres­i­dent Obama’s cam­paign is not a Hawai­ian birth cer­tifi­cate, and he said Jan­ice Okubo was out­right lying when Poli­ti­fact emailed her the copy it had and she said “It’s a valid Hawaii state birth cer­tifi­cate.” 

To sum­ma­rize, he essen­tial­ly made the crazy claim that he worked at an offi­cial gov­ern­ment agen­cy in charge of deter­min­ing the eli­gi­bil­i­ty of can­di­dates for office, that after a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion, his office found that then-Sen­a­tor Oba­ma was NOT born in the state of Hawaii, but that they put him on the bal­lot any­way as a state-cer­ti­fied, ful­ly eli­gi­ble can­di­date, on the basis that it’s pos­si­ble that he might have been born in one of the oth­er states.

In oth­er words, Tim Adams has nev­er offered any­thing but unsub­stan­ti­at­ed and unre­li­able hearsay to back up his sto­ry, and he out­right lied about one crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant aspects of the sto­ry, that his office was respon­si­ble for ver­i­fy­ing the iden­ti­ty of can­di­dates for the state bal­lot in Hawaii in 2008.

Link to the Real­i­ty Check Radio show of March 31, 2011 at the bot­tom of this page.

Falsehoods Unchallenged Only Fester and Grow