During the Democratic Convention in Denver, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews conducted a widely viewed interview outside the convention center with Cristi Adkins, a "Clinton4McCain" supporter who said Obama went to a "Muslim madrasah school" and assured Matthews and his viewers that she had it on good authority, as she put it, from a "17-page report written by a Congressional investigator."
"While some people may have an open mind and feel comfortable voting for a man that went to a madarasah Muslim school when he was younger, the Clintons4McCains feel like we're not ready to give him the keys to our nuclear weapons," Adkins said.
Adkins recently sent the 17-page Congressional investigator report she famously referenced to OffTheBus. It is written by Clinton supporter Paula Abeles. The body of the report, where Abeles puts forward her argument, is four-pages long. It underlines the tenuous links between Obama and Kenyan politician Raila Odinga to suggest the Democratic candidate for president is favorably disposed to radical Islamic politics. The remaining 13 pages of the report are a bibliography of cited newspaper and magazine articles.
Another report forwarded by Adkins, also referenced fleetingly in her interview with Matthews, on Obama's alleged technical ineligibility for the presidency was riddled with errors and grammatical mistakes.
Abeles is best known as the spouse of a Thomas Jefferson family association official who, according to Politico's Ben Smith, "masqueraded as a 67-year-old black woman on an internet chat room in a bit to keep descendants of a reputed Jefferson mistress out of this weekend's family reunion."
In the sections where the "Muslim" Abeles report actually centers on Obama, it focuses almost entirely on his August 2006 trip to Africa, which included a stop in Kenya. Abeles says Obama "consistently appeared at the side of fellow ethnic Luo Raila Odinga" and points out that Obama was "openly critical of governmental corruption under President [K]ibaki." According to Abeles, Kibaki is less corrupt than many African leaders and Odinga "has his own corruption issues." Abeles includes in her four pages the fact that Kibaki spokesman Alfred Matua complained that "[Senator Obama] has been used as a puppet to perpetuate opposition politics."
Abeles then cites reports that Odinga's Luo supporters "engaged in what US Envoy Jendayi Frazer called 'clear ethnic cleansing' of the Kikuyu opposition."
Abeles also states that the relationship between Obama and Odinga is "unclear." In fact, one of the report's sources, PolitiFact.com, spoke to three Kenya experts, including Joel D. Barkan, a professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, who said, "To my knowledge, there's absolutely no relationship."
Throughout the report, Abeles tries to connect Obama to Islamic extremists in Kenya through his supposed close personal connection with Odinga. Abeles argues that the Kibaki government is a "leading supporter of the US's efforts to dismantle al Qaeda cells in Kenya," suggesting sideways that Obama is therefore against US efforts to dismantle al Qaeda.
Abeles adds, "At no point has Senator Obama tried to distance himself from Odinga. Odinga visited Obama on a fundraising tour of the US in 2007 and it is believed that political strategist Dick Morris assisted in Odinga's presidential campaign-- gratis-- at Obama's request." That assertion -- that Morris assisted Odinga on Obama's urging -- is not corroborated by any sources nor in any of the material cited by Abeles. Abeles admits that Obama spoke against the violence in Kenya.
The report proves only that Obama appeared with a losing candidate in Kenya during a trip through Africa, a fact widely reported and never denied. There is nothing in the report to lend weight to any allegations concerning Oama's religious affiliations and beliefs, nothig to contraisct in any way any of his publicly stated positions. There is nothing in the report to substantiate any claims that Obama has any personal connection to Kenyan opposition politician Odinga.
On the matter of Kenyan politics, Obama Campaign Spokesman Ben LaBolt has reported that "Obama said President Kibaki and Raila Odinga should sit down and talk 'unconditionally' and he urged them to 'welcome the assistance of your concerned friends.'" LaBolt said claims that Obama contributed to Odinga are "as baseless as anything you've read from an anonymous blogger" and that the alleged 'Friends of Senator BO' PAC, alleged to contribute to the Odinga candidacy, does not exist. He also cited a New York Times report that said Odinga was friends with Obama Sr., not Senator Obama. There is no demonstrable family relationship between Obama and Odinga, LaBolt said, while pointed out that it is a Luo custom to refer to anyone from the same clan as a "cousin."
The report on "Obama's ineligibility" is sourced to Judah Benjamin, who also claims to have been a "Congressional investigator." The only Judah Benjamin I could find was born in 1811, and the articles sourced to him were added to No Quarter by someone called Susan, who said she never communicated with Benjamin. If the name is not a pseudonym, then the author has elected to remain beyond contact.
The Benjamin report alleges that the US Constitution prohibits dual citizens from becoming president. The document informs us that "By definition NATURAL BORN = BORN IN THE (SOLE) ALLEGIANCE OF THE USA not born on US Soil."*
University of California Irvine Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky told OffTheBus that "The US Constitution says nothing about dual citizenship and there has never been a Supreme Court case (about dual citizenship)." Chemerinsky added that the Constitution requires that any president be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old and a resident of the country for 14 years. "Even if (Obama) was a dual citizen, he would still be eligible (for the presidency)," Chemerinsky said.
The report also references a civil rights law case, United States v. Rhodes, which centers on three white men prosecuted in 1866 for burgling the home of a black woman named Nancy Talbot. The presiding judge, Justice Noah Swayne, upheld the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and ruled that Talbot was denied a civil right, based upon the Thirteenth Amendment, to testify.
The author of this nonsensical report goes on to add that "the situation of Michaelle Jean who became Governor General of Canada in 2005 may also be accepted as a Precedent and so may the Australian Sue vs. Hill Court Case." Chemerinsky pointed out that foreign court cases have no bearing whatsoever on US law, and that they are completely irrelevant to Obama.
I spoke extensively to Clintons4McCain founders Cristi Adkins and Evelyn Adams, both of whom assured me that they vetted all the documents they received thoroughly and said San Francisco law firm Walston Cross planned to charge them $50,000. Adkins was surprised that the report might not be legitimate and said, "We vetted this through our own attorneys." She said that Walston Cross told them a former Supreme Court Justice had examined the documents and attested to their legal validity. Adkins added that a delegate at the Denver convention confirmed the legitimacy of the document and said the issue of dual citizenship was of paramount concern.
Adams told me she had spent "probably three months on this, trying to dig and get what I could and then everything I got I had someone else look at it." According to Adams, she interacted with lawyers at Walston Cross, who apparently told her she had a case to file an injunction against the DNC.
However, when I called Orestes Cross, a partner at Walston Cross, he told me, "We do not have an attorney-client relationship with this group, nor have we ever. No funds were transacted and if funds were offered we would not represent them due to the frivolousness of their claim." Cross said he had never seen nor heard of the document, and could not identify either of the women as people he had ever been in contact with.
He told me he had never spoken to anyone from Clintons4McCain, and added, "I have seen nothing that would make me believe that Senator Obama was not eligible to be a candidate for president in the United States of America. Chemerinsky is correct -- it's absolute nonsense."
Coincidentally, however, Walston Cross is representing Markham Robinson, Chairman of the American Independent Party, who has filed an injunction against Senator John McCain under Article 2 of the Constitution in federal court.
Adams insists that she had several conversations with the firm, but Cross firmly stated that the firm has never represented Adams or Clintons4McCain.
One of the inspirations for the Clintons4McCain case against the DNC is former Pennsylvania deputy attorney general and Clinton support Philip Berg, who filed suit against Obama for allegedly lying about his citizenship. Berg said he believed Obama was born in Kenya but added "we don't have hard facts yet."
Berg said of the Benjamin report, "I haven't heard of it."
Benjamin ends his report with this tidbit:
"Let me explain something right here right now. Im not a Lawyer Im a Historian always have been. Im pretty well certain that my arguments on the Natural Born Citizen and Dual Citizen issues are legally sound in fact I havent been able to find any alternative that makes sense in three months."
Adkins and Adams seem to sincerely believe in the legitimacy of the reports and in the power of the reports to persuade voters. Confronted with expert opinions as to the doubtful authority of the documents and the flimsy and biased arguments made by the authors, Adkins and Adams seemed genuinely shocked.
*All misspellings, grammatical errors, erroneous capitalizations and other writing errors are taken directly as written from the report.