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Area legislators expected at gathering of Obama birth-certificate critics

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 30, 2009 - Close to a dozen area legislators are expected to be among a capacity crowd gathered Wednesday in St. Charles to hear from California dentist and lawyer Orly Taitz, who has been waging a battle in the courts and on the Internet to press her case that President Barack Obama is not an American citizen and, therefore, ineligible to be in the White House.

The St. Charles meeting is slated for 11 a.m. at the Vision Library, 516 South 5th Street. She is to hold a similar 4 p.m. gathering in Jefferson City at the Capitol Plaza hotel.

The Missouri meeting schedule and contact information has been posted on the Web site of the Platte County Republicans.

Potential attendees were to call a St. Louis area phone number to RSVP. The woman who answered a call from the Beacon confirmed the events. She declined Tuesday to identify the legislators expected to attend, but said they include members of the state House and Senate.

Taitz' Website says she is expecting up to 100 people at each Missouri event. The gatherings have attracted significant partisan attention, especially from area Democratic-leaning blogs such as ShowMeProgress and Firedupmissouri. The latter's attacks has even garnered disparaging mentions by Taitz.

Since launching her campaign more than a year ago, Taitz has garnered a lot of attention, praise and condemnation from critics and supporters of Obama. She is critical of his politics, but mainly challenges his qualifications. She has questioned the validity of the Hawaiian birth certificate that Obama's campaign posted on its Website last year to counter contentions that Obama was born in Africa.

Obama often has noted that he is the son of an American woman from Kansas, who grew up in Hawaii, and a Kenyan exchange student. The couple met at the University of Hawaii and were married. Obama, his relatives and the state of Hawaii say he was born at a hospital there.

In any case, some Obama supporters have said the dispute doesn't matter because Obama's mother was definitely an American, which would automatically confer citizenship for her children, regardless of where she gave birth.

Taitz disagrees, and is continuing to press her case as she travels around the country. In recent months, she has shown up at public events where she has confronted two members of the U.S. Supreme Court -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Antonin Scalia.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.