Schwarzenegger opponent admits leaking recording

The campaign of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Democratic rival acknowledged Tuesday that it downloaded — and leaked to the media — a recording of a private meeting in which the governor described a Hispanic legislator as having a “very hot” personality.

But Cathy Calfo, campaign manager for Democrat Phil Angelides, said the campaign had done nothing wrong because the file was available publicly on the governor’s Web site.

“No one hacked,” Calfo said at a news conference to address the role played by the Angelides campaign, first reported by The Sacramento Bee. “They accessed information that was available to the public.”

Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn said someone would have had to snoop to find the audio file.

“The file that was leaked to the Los Angeles Times was in a private area of the governor’s server not accessible to the public without manipulation of information,” he said.

Schwarzenegger’s legal affairs secretary, Andrea Lynn Hoch, said the sound file was stored in a password-protected area. She said she forwarded the Internet Protocol address used to download the file to the California Highway Patrol, which is investigating.

Calfo said she was unhappy that two campaign staffers had passed the audio clip to the Times without her knowledge. Angelides did not know about it, either, she said.

“We’re looking into it now,” she said. “Am I happy? No.”

Earlier Tuesday, Schwarzenegger campaign spokeswoman Katie Levinson called on Angelides to “denounce the unethical actions taken on his behalf” and accused him of trying to smear the governor. Schwarzenegger is seeking re-election in November.

The recording of the governor’s comments caused a minor controversy, with some Democrats complaining bitterly and others saying the remarks were playful and not offensive.

The recording was made during a speech-writing session in the governor’s office last March. In it, Schwarzenegger and his chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, speculate lightheartedly about the ethnic background of state Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia.

After they chat 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.”

With Garcia by his side, the governor apologized for his remarks on Friday, saying he cringed when he read them. Garcia said she was not offended.

Schwarzenegger, who was in Los Angeles on Tuesday to sign a bill raising the minimum wage, said of the controversy: “I don’t really want to interfere with all this little, trivial things.”

Asked whether the recording could have been on a public part of the governor’s Web site, Schwarzenegger said, “Let the experts deal with that.”


Associated Press writer Christina Almeida in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press