Kansas Birther Hearing: Cher, John Dean Attack State Republicans

President Barack Obama waves to supporters at Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus, Ohio, as he leaves the airport for a campaign event Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
President Barack Obama waves to supporters at Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus, Ohio, as he leaves the airport for a campaign event Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

The Kansas birther hearing not only brought public scrutiny to an obscure state agency, but also put the state in the crosshairs of some celebrities.

Several celebrities took to Twitter to weigh in on the decision of the state objections board to weigh President Barack Obama's eligibility to be on Kansas' presidential ballot in the wake of a challenge by a resident of Manhattan, Kan. The board voted unanimously Monday -- during a hearing dominated by birther queen Orly Taitz -- to drop the case after Joe Montgomery withdrew his objection.

Cher led off the fight on Friday when she posted several tweets highly critical of Kansas Republicans, including one calling them "beneath slime." The objections board is composed of three Republicans -- Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt. The three voted unanimously on Thursday to delay a decision on Montgomery's objection pending more information from Hawaiian officials about Obama's birth certificate and noting that Obama's campaign did not attend the hearing.

In her tweets, Cher, the ex-wife of former Rep. Sonny Bono (R-Calif.), suggested that Kansas Republicans believed that Obama was a foreign-born Muslim. The objections board did not make any comments along those lines on Thursday.

The Wichita Eagle reported that Cher was not alone in tweeting about the birther hearing. Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean tweeted about the hearing on Friday, calling the state "nuts." And New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof suggested that the state is "stuck in the 19th century."

Kobach's spokeswoman Kay Curtis told The Huffington Post that the office has "not been tracking celebrity tweets," while state Republicans stressed that the objections board was fulfilling it's legal obligations in holding the hearing. Clay Barker, the Kansas GOP executive director, said state law required Thursday's hearing and that the board was seeking as much information as possible. In response to Cher's tweet about the party being "beneath slime," Barker said the birther movement is not in control of Kansas Republicans.

"There is one person who filed the objection, he came up with a legal theory that did not hold water," Barker told HuffPost. "The board had to go through the process. It is not a party belief. I have no idea how many people believe that, of those people who are public about it, it is a small number. It is not a mainstream belief""

Montgomery had objected to Obama's eligibility for the presidency, saying that citizenship came "primarily" from the father and that Obama's father was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Kenya. Montgomery, a Kansas State University staffer, withdrew the objection, saying he did so after threats were made against himself and his family.

Barker also noted that the all Republican make-up of the Kansas Objections Board is due to the law mandating those three offices comprising the board -- the lieutenant governor, attorney general and the secretary of state, all of whom are currently Republicans. He said the board was comprised of three Democrats in 2010.

At least one Democrat, state Rep. Ann Mah (D-Topeka) said she blames Kobach for the entire episode, including Taitz' attempt to seize control of Monday's board meeting and Cher's involvement. On Friday, Mah had said that the objections board was causing the state to become a "laughingstock again." Kansas Democratic Party spokesman Dakota Loomis said the party did not have a comment on Cher's tweet.

"None of this is surprising," Mah said of the celebrity tweets. "Kris Kobach invited this circus to town, including Orly Taitz by not dismissing it."

Mah said she believes the state can overcome this latest issue, but said she expects more.

"We can get over it, but you never know what can pop up," she said. "You have to wonder who is in charge in the GOP."

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