Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona has appointed a “cold case posse” to determine whether President Barack Obama was actually born in the United States.
The news was first reported by World Net Daily, an online publication that has doggedly pursued conspiracy theories about the president’s birth.
Sgt. Jesse Spurgin, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed the news to The Daily Caller on Tuesday.
Spurgin explained that the tough-on-crime Arizona sheriff is tasking the posse with examining documents provided to Arpaio by author Jerome Corsi.
The goal of the inquest “is to determine whether there appears to be enough evidence to move forward with an investigation” or “whether another governmental entity might be a better choice to investigate these claims,” Spurgin explained.
The county’s cold case posse “consists of 40 non-compensated (volunteer) members,” Spurgin said, “many of whom have professional law enforcement backgrounds.” (RELATED: Poll shows Obama approval rating at new low)
Two members of the posse “will review, not investigate, the documents given to Sheriff Arpaio by Dr. Corci [sic] and his fellow associates,” Spurgin told TheDC. World Net Daily, however, reports that the posse will consist of five members: two former law enforcement officers, two retired attorneys and retired New Jersey police detective Michael Zullo.
Arpaio told World Net Daily, “The individuals on this posse have been sworn in by me and I have granted them the authority required to conduct this investigation.”
“I will have the ultimate authority to decide [whether the president’s birth certificate is a forgery],” Arpaio said. “I gave the Cold Case Posse the authority to investigate, but the results of their investigation ultimately come to me and I will then decide how best to proceed from there.”
Jerome Corsi’s book “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” was released in May. Only weeks before its release, the White House made public the long form version of Obama’s birth certificate — a demand made by “birthers.”
The release of the long form birth certificate was widely considered to have discredited the conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth.
“This investigation does not involve politics,” Arpaio insists. “I listen to all the residents of Maricopa County who come to my office with complaints, regardless what their politics are.”
Members of the Surprise, Arizona Tea Party wrote to Arpaio in late August to request that he use his authority “as the Sheriff for the third largest Sheriffs Office in the nation” to “investigate Barack Obama II’s birth certificate to determine if the document released by the White House on April 27, 2011, is a forgery.”
It is unclear whether any public resources will be used for the probe.