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Objection to Obama to be withdrawn

By The Mercury

A Manhattan man said Friday he is withdrawing a complaint he filed with state election officials over President Obama’s eligibility to be on the November general election ballot.

Joe Montgtomery said he was withdrawing the complaint, heard Thursday by the Board of Objections, because of reaction that had been directed at him and at others.

“There’s been a lot of animosity directed at people around me ... in ways that areintimidating,” Montgomery said Friday afternoon.

He said he believes “strongly in the issue I presented, and was hoping to create a dialogue.” Instead, he said, the reaction “has been very angry and mis-directed and I don’t believe I should be putting a burden on people around me, who are good people.”

Montgomery told The Mercury earlier Monday he believed he had presented “compelling evidence” to state officials for why Obama’s name should be removed from the November general election ballot. State election officials delayed a decision, citing what they characterized as a need for more information. Meanwhile, a state civil rights leader organized a protest against the board’s failure to immediately dismiss the matter.

The all-Republican Board heard arguments Thursday on the claim that Obama is not eligible to be president because his father was from Kenya. Montgomery also questioned whether Obama has a valid birth certificate.

Obama has said he was born in Hawaii, and officials in that state have repeatedly confirmed his citizenship. His mother was a Kansas native.

The state board is led by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who during his successful 2010 campaign suggested Obama should produce his long-form birth certificate to quell doubts about his status. The board’s other members are Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.

The board, which would have the final say on the ballot absent a court challenge, plans to meet again Monday and may rule then.

Montgomery said Friday that he came away from the hearing “a little disappointed” due to the absence of an immediate decision, yet optimistic that he had presented “compelling evidence” for his case.

Montgomery argued Thursday that to be eligible for president, both of Obama’s parents had to be U.S. citizens when he was born, another long-circulating claim that includes citations of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, some more than a century old.

Schmidt and Kobach disagreed. Kobach said Montgomery was “trying to read too much in these very old decisions.”

The secretary of state said the delay shouldn’t be interpreted as the board giving credence to claims that Obama isn’t eligible, but as a signal it wants to build a more complete record.

“We have to take our responsibilities seriously,” he said. “Taking it seriously means that we make a decision with all of the evidence that can be obtained before we decide it.”

Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon called the delay “lunacy.”

Board members said they want certified documents from Hawaii. Kobach plans to have his staff contact officials in Arizona and Mississippi, which also have looked into such issues. Hawaii sent Arizona official verification of Obama’s birth records.

Kobach said it would have been difficult for Montgomery to prevail, particularly because Kansas has a high legal standard for removing a candidate from the ballot.

But he said, “I don’t think it’s a frivolous objection.”

News of the hearing provoked a high level of feedback both locally and nationally. Sonny Scroggins, perhaps the state’s best-known civil rights leader, scheduled a protest against the state board’s failure to immediate dismiss the suit for noon Friday, and said he planned a second such demonstration for noon Monday as well.

Montgomery acknowledged that animosity was directed toward his family members and to his connection with K-State, where he is associated with the College of Veterinary Medicine.

On Twitter, the reaction has been mostly negative. Many of the tweets were directed to K-State president Kirk Schulz.

“This Joe Montgomery thing is pretty embarrassing. Seems more like 1825 than 2025,” a tweet by urbanjake to Schulz stated. The 2025 reference is to K-State 2025, which is the university goal to become a top 50 public research university by that year.

The tweets also mentioned Montgomery’s status as the public address announcer for the K-State Marching Band. “Joe Montgomery, reading the Preamble {to the U.S. Constitution, a part of the pre-game ritual} does not make you a constitutional scholar. Please stop embarrassing my band, my university and my state,” a tweet by Nik Stavropoulos stated.

At least one user, danedri, offered a differing opinion from the majority while not stating she agreed Montgomery’s position. “Joe Montgomery — a guy with a job and an opinion. The two have nothing to do with each other. Chill out, K-Staters. Seriously,” her tweet states.

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