You’ve heard, I’m sure, the claim that Obama has spent some large amount of money (since the amount is a wild guess, specifics vary widely) keeping his birth certificate a secret. Those who follow these questions know that nothing Obama can do will make the Conspiracy Theorists withdraw. If he was born in Hawaii, then he’s not a natural born citizen anyway. If a court rules the against them, it just means the judge is traitor. If nothing Obama can do (short of resigning) will have any effect on birther activity, then it is certain that the birthers bear all of the responsibility for all the public funds spent in dealing with birtherism.
What are those costs?
- Members of Congress are flooded with emails, letters and phone calls asking questions and making demands related to birther theories. Their staff read and answer the mail.
- State officials, including secretaries of state, are pestered with birther questions.
- FOIA requests (which in most cases are free to the requester) have been filed, and must be researched and responded to
- The state and federal courts have been flooded with cases (at least 60 actions!) and many of the plaintiffs have asked that the filing fee be waived.
- Many of the cases involve government defendants (state secretaries of state, Nancy Pelosi, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Elections Commission, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Clinton, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Gates, various military commanders, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate — not to mention Barack and Michelle Obama). All of these are defended at public expense.
Add up the time and effort of congressional staff, judges, law clerks, state officials and federal agency staffers. It’s got to be in the millions. Birthers are not harmless.