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.

Excerpt from the Political Cesspool radio show, June 6, 2010

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Affidavit of Tim Adams (written by WorldNetDaily), Jan. 20, 2011

Reality Check Radio show, March 31, 2011