It fell to a partner from the Washington office of Perkins Coie to obtain a copy of President Barack Obama's original birth certificate.
According to copies of letters released today by White House officials, partner Judith Corley initiated the process last week and planned to travel to Hawaii to pick up two copies. Corley represents the president in his personal matters, a job she assumed last year when Robert Bauer left Perkins Coie to become White House counsel.
Corley wrote to Loretta Fuddy in Hawaii’s state health department on April 22. “I am writing on behalf of my client, President Barack Obama,” the letter begins.
She wrote that Obama long ago requested a copy of a “short form” birth certificate, a computer-generated document that is widely accepted by other government agencies. But Corley wrote to ask for a waiver of health department policy to make available two copies of the original, “long form” birth certificate.
Corley did not return messages requesting comment today, but her letter notes her planned travel to Hawaii. “Pursuant to my client’s authorization,” she wrote, “I will be coming to your offices to pick up the copies of the certificates.”
Also among the White House documents (PDF) is a letter few lawyers can claim to have: an authorization from the president to act on his behalf. Obama wrote a one-paragraph letter authorizing Corley to provide any additional information, pay any fees and arrange for the delivery of copies of the birth certificate.
As Obama’s personal counsel, Corley also handles his required financial disclosure reports but little else, according to a January 2010 interview with The National Law Journal. “He doesn’t have a lot of personal legal issues, which is a good thing, I guess,” Corley said then. “I hope it stays that way.”
She’s been a partner at Seattle-based Perkins Coie since 1994. She represented then-Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) during his 1988 and 2004 presidential runs and America Coming Together, a tax-exempt 527 group that opposed President George W. Bush’s re-election.
Update (2:02 p.m.): Bauer confirmed in a news conference today that Corley did travel personally to Honolulu to pick up copies of the birth certificate.