By Ben Geman - 03/20/12 07:30 PM EDT
Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on Tuesday said he's not yet convinced that President Obama’s birth certificate is legitimate.
“I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence,” Stearns told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday, comments that come after he expressed similar doubts at a meeting with constituents in February.
Overwhelming evidence shows that Obama was born in Hawaii and is a U.S. citizen, but members of what has been called the "birther" movement have continued to dispute his nationality.
In April 2011, the White House released Obama's long-form birth certificate to the public, hoping to put the matter to bed for good. But the issue has popped back up repeatedly — most recently in early March, when Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he had evidence the document was a fake.
Asked Tuesday if he thinks the birth certificate is legitimate, Stearns cited an inquiry by an Arizona sheriff – an apparent reference to Arpaio – and noted he believed there is “another investigation” as well.
“I think we are just going to hold in abeyance a final decision until we hear, you know, some of these people seem to have legitimate concerns, so I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say,” Stearns said.
Stearns has also faced accusations recently that he allegedly offered a GOP primary opponent a bribe to exit the race, claims Stearns has strongly denied and called “totally unfounded” and “slanderous” through a spokesman. The FBI would neither confirm nor deny that they are investigating the charges, according to published reports.
—Josh Lederman contributed.