Is this Arnie’s Watergate?

A California state investigation team is examining whether hackers were involved in releasing a digital recording of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about a Hispanic legislator’s fiery temper.

The California Highway Patrol’s high-tech crimes investigators are also looking into whether the recording, which was stored as an MP3 file on the governor’s officer server, was obtained in some other way, according to patrol spokesman Tom Marshall.

“We’ll look at the security overall, the whole security of the governor’s office computer system,” Marshall said.

The recording, made during a speechwriting session last March, was obtained by the Los Angeles Times, which published a story last week. The recording featured the governor and his chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, idly speculating about the ethnic background of state Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City.

After some banter about whether she is Cuban or Puerto Rican, Schwarzenegger says, “They are all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it.”

The governor apologized for his remarks on Friday, saying he cringed when he read them. Garcia said she was not offended and appeared by the governor’s side as he apologized.

The audio file was downloaded on Aug. 29 and 30, and the governor’s office identified the internet protocol address — a numeric address given to any computer connected to the Internet — that was used to do it, said Andrea Lynn Hoch, Schwarzenegger’s legal affairs secretary.

“This access was unauthorized and constitutes a breach of one or more security protocols within the governor’s office, which allowed unknown persons to access private files stored in a password-protected area of the governor’s office network computer system,” she said in the statement.

The governor’s office declined to answer further questions.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press