Controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is escalating his probe into whether Obama was truly born in the United States. Arpaio has sent a deputy from his “Threats Management Unit” and a member of his volunteer posse to Hawaii to investigate the president’s birth certificate.

The move comes less than a week after Arizona’s secretary of state fanned the birther conspiracy flames by threatening to keep Obama off the state’s November ballot over the issue. –TEB

Talking Points Memo:

Both the Arizona Republic and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported deputy Brian Mackiewcz traveled with Arpaio’s volunteer posse member Michael Zullo on Monday to try to get an official confirmation that Hawaii has the president’s birth certificate on file.

Earlier this year, the Arizona sheriff fanned the flames of the birther conspiracy theory when he announced that Zullo and other posse members had determined a copy of the birth certificate released last year by the White House was a fraud. More recently, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has said he is following the sheriff’s lead and considering keeping the president off the state’s ballot in November unless he gets confirmation the document is real.

Both Arpaio and Bennett are Republicans and the latter is co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in Arizona. In their efforts, they have essentially caved to pressure from a small but vocal fringe of writers and activists unwilling to believe the president is a natural born citizen of the United States no matter how much evidence they get. The conspiracy theorists say a fake birth certificate would mean Obama is ineligible for the presidency because it would show he was not born a citizen.

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