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Nick R. Martin

Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him at nick@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Nick

Updated: May 22, 2012, 7:01 PM

After days of ridicule for launching a conspiracy theory-fueled investigation into Barack Obama's birth certificate, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett on Tuesday backed off his threat to keep the president off the ballot in November and apologized to his state.



"If I embarrassed the state, I apologize, but that certainly wasn't my intent," Bennett said in an interview with Phoenix radio station KTAR. "He'll be on the ballot as long as he fills out the same paperwork and does the same things that everybody else has."

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In case there was any doubt about it before: The man in charge of running Arizona's elections has no plans to investigate Mitt Romney's birth certificate the way he's been looking into President Obama's.

"No, we haven't contacted Michigan," a spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Bennett told TPM in an email on Tuesday. "I don't know if Michigan has the same statute that Hawaii has."

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Not to be outdone by the Arizona secretary of state's recent flirtation with birtherism, Sheriff Joe Arpaio escalated his probe into President Obama's birth certificate this week by dispatching a deputy from his "threats unit" to Hawaii.

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.

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One of the more amusing things revealed last week when Arizona's secretary of state came out as birther curious was that Hawaii officials just simply don't believe he's qualified to investigate Barack Obama's birth certificate.

Sure, Ken Bennett says he's the man in charge of deciding whether President Obama is eligible to be on Arizona's ballot in November, but the response from people in Hawaii's government has been: Prove it. In essence, they're giving Bennett a taste of his own medicine, making him jump through a series of hoops to prove he has the legal authority to investigate the matter, much the same way the birthers have made Hawaii prove time and time again that the president is indeed a natural born citizen of the United States.

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Prosecutors said on Saturday that a trio of protestors arrested this week in Chicago were allegedly planning to target President Obama's campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house and some of the city's financial institutions with homemade bombs in a series of attacks timed to coincide with this weekend's NATO summit there.

Court documents posted online by the Chicago Tribune said the three men were anarchists who traveled together from Florida to Chicago to carry out the attacks and hoped to recruit as many as 16 people to help.

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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said late Friday that President Obama will remain on Arizona's ballot despite conspiracy theory-fueled threats from the state's top election official.

"The president of the United States is not going to be taken off the ballot," McCain told Phoenix television station KPNX.

Having faced Obama in the 2008 presidential race, McCain was responding to comments made earlier in the week by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who threatened to keep the president off the November ballot unless he receives more proof Obama was born in the United States. Bennett said the Hawaii birth certificate Obama released last year was not proof enough.

McCain's comments come at about 2:20 into this video:

The White House released this photo of President Obama having dinner on Friday night with other world leaders at the Group of Eight Summit at Camp David, Md.

Obama Meets With G-8 Leaders At Camp David

Caption: Seated clockwise from the President are: Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan, Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, and President François Hollande of France. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Three protesters who were in Chicago for the NATO summit were arrested this week and charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, multiple news outlets reported on Saturday.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, the three men were arrested on Wednesday at a raid on an apartment in the city. They were identified by police and their attorneys as Brian Church, 20, Jared Chase, 24 and Vincent Betterly, 24, all of whom traveled from out of state for the protests.

Besides conspiracy to commit terrorism, they were also charged with possession of an explosive or incendiary device and providing material support for terrorism, according to the newspaper.

The Chicago Tribune reported the arrests were part of a month-long investigation into a group suspected of making Molotov cocktails. Their lawyers told the newspaper, however, that they only had home beer brewing equipment in the apartment when it was raided.

If federal prosecutors get their way next week, an aging white supremacist who bragged about being a serial bomber and who was convicted earlier this year of sending explosives to a city office in Arizona will never see the outside world again.

A jury in Phoenix found Dennis Mahon guilty in February on three charges related to the 2004 bombing in Scottsdale that injured three city employees, including the director of the Office of Diversity and Dialogue.

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Barack Obama's campaign vowed late Friday that he would be on Arizona's ballot in November despite threats from the state's top election official that the president might be blocked over a conspiracy theory about where he was born.

The campaign was responding to comments made by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who said on Thursday he was not convinced that a copy of the president's birth certificate was sufficiently authentic to prove Obama was born in the United States and therefore eligible for office. Bennett is planning to run for governor in 2014 and is also the co-chair of Republican Mitt Romney's campaign in Arizona.

In a statement, Mahen Gunaratna, the Arizona spokesperson for Obama's campaign said this:

From day one, Mitt Romney has pandered to the far-right of his party, and today Arizona Tea Party Republicans are following suit by questioning where the President was born. The President will be on the ballot this November in Arizona alongside Mitt Romney. And Arizonans will have a choice between a President who brought us back from the brink of another Depression so job loss has been reversed to create 4.2 million private sector jobs, manufacturing is resurgent, and GM is the #1 automaker in the world — and a Governor with a familiar and troubling economic scheme: more budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy; fewer rules for Wall Street — the same formula that benefitted a few, but crashed our economy and punished the middle class.

Gunaratna said the incident gave Romney the opportunity to "denounce the extreme voices in his party."

TPMLivewire