Entries in Cliff Stearns (3)


GOP Lawmaker Stokes ‘Birther’ Drama

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Cliff Stearns, a senior Republican investigating the White House’s Solyndra energy loan guarantee, told reporters Tuesday that he is still not convinced that President Obama’s birth certificate is valid.

“I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence,” Stearns, R-Fla., said at the Capitol Tuesday, just weeks after he waded back into the debate during a town hall meeting with constituents last month.

In April 2011, the White House released President Obama’s long-form birth certificate to the public, showing that he was born in Hawaii and is a U.S. citizen, but skeptics from the so-called “birther” movement have continued to question his eligibility for the presidency.

When Stearns met with his constituents on Feb. 25 in Belleview, Fla., one man insisted that the president was not born in the United States and should be impeached. Stearns then asked the audience, “Is it legitimate?” -- drawing the score of the White House.

Last week Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s communications director, called into question the legitimacy of Stearns’ Solyndra investigation into the Energy Department’s $535 million loan guarantee to the now bankrupt energy company, considering his concerns over whether the president is a natural born citizen. Stearns is the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.

“One of the GOP members leading the Solyndra investigation is a birther, which raises all sorts of questions,” Pfeiffer tweeted. But last week, Stearns’ spokesman Paul Flusche told ABC News the story was “old news” and he had no further no comment on the issue.

But that did not stop Stearns from weighing in again Tuesday.

Asked if he thinks the president’s birth certificate is authentic, Stearns suggested the issue is not settled for him personally yet, as first reported by The Hill and Roll Call. Before coming to a conclusion, Stearns says he is awaiting the results of another independent investigation by Maricopa County [Ariz.] Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who claims he has proof the birth certificate is a “computer-generated forgery.”

Flusche did not respond to an ABC News request seeking an explanation of the Florida Republican’s latest comments.

The president’s father’s birthplace in Kenya was the basis of unfounded claims that he was born in Kenya, not the U.S. The Constitution stipulates only natural born citizens are eligible for the presidency.

Among the documents distributed last year by the White House were the president’s “long form” birth certificate and correspondence between the White House counsel and the state of Hawaii. Obama’s personal attorney, Judith Corley, flew to Hawaii to pick up the original certified copies and carry them back to the White House. The certificate of live birth includes the original, handwritten signatures of Obama’s mother Ann Dunham Obama, the attending doctor, and the local registrar. The verified document also reveals the location of Obama’s birth to be Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lawmaker Denies Trying to Buy Out His Challenger

Rep. Cliff Sterns. US House of Representatives(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- A member of Congress is denying that he tried to buy out his primary opponent in Florida.

The primary challenger, county courts clerk James Jett, claimed to a group of Republicans at a country club that the congressman, Republican Cliff Stearns, offered him money and appointments in exchange for quitting the race. Jett said at the country club meeting that the FBI is investigating Stearns, The Florida Times-Union reports.

Jett said a former education commissioner acted on Stearns’s behalf to offer Jett a job on the campaign, a job running the state’s law department, a U.S. marshal position, and $25,000 to cover his own bid for Congress. He also said House Speaker John Boehner was used “as leverage,” according to the paper, but that Jett didn’t think Boehner “was aware.”

“I’ve got this on tape,” Jett said, according to the paper. “This has national ramifications, and I don’t want to harm the Republican Party.”

A spokesman for Stearns, Paul Flusche, wrote a statement calling Jett’s claim “totally unfounded” and that “no one is authorized to make any claims or concessions on behalf of Rep. Stearns.”

“He has not communicated with Mr. Jett at any time to get out of the race,” Flusche said.

Flusche also said that “it is in violation of Florida State law for him to record a phone call of someone without his advising him or her he is doing it.”

Neither Stearns’s office nor the FBI would confirm that the bureau is investigating him. Blanca Gilbert, an FBI special agent in Florida, would say only, “We have no comment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Reps Object to White House's Withholding of Solyndra Documents

Paul Chinn-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two Republican Congressional leaders -- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. -- criticized the White House on Monday for turning down an Oct. 5 request for “(a)ll communications among White House staff and officials relating to the $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra by the Department of Energy between Jan. 20, 2009, and the present.”

“What is the White House trying to hide?” Upton and Stearns asked in a joint statement.  “Since day one of the Solyndra investigation, the Obama administration has fought us tooth and nail, even forcing us to subpoena documents from [Office of  Management and Budget].  Along the way, they have repeatedly claimed there’s nothing to see and no wrongdoing to uncover, but the facts have proven we are on the right trail.  For an administration that campaigned and governs under the banner of transparency, such an overt refusal to share emails directly relevant to an ongoing investigation is deeply troubling.”

On Friday, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler denied the committee’s request, writing in a letter, “Your most recent request for internal White House communications from the first day of the current Administration to the present implicates longstanding and significant institutional Executive Branch confidentiality interests.  Encroaching upon these important interests is not necessary, however, because the agency documents the Committee has requested, which include communications with the White House, should satisfy the Committee’s stated objective -- to ‘understand the involvement of the White House in the review of the Solyndra loan guarantee and the Administration’s support of this guarantee.'”

Ruemmler also noted that that Department of Energy, Office of Management and Budget, and the Treasury Department “have to date produced over 70,000 pages of documents, participated in nine briefings for committee staff and provided testimony at several Committee hearings relating to this matter.”  The White House has handed over 900 pages of related documents.

Stearns said earlier in the month that anything relevant -- including messages on President Obama’s BlackBerry -- should be turned over to his committee.

“So if there’s nothing on his BlackBerry, that’s fine,” Stearns said.  “But if there’s something on his BlackBerry, I would assume that would include that.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio