Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Rival behind Schwarzenegger Web flap

Democratic rival to California's governor admits aides nabbed a controversial audio file. But his camp calls it fair game.

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Declan McCullagh
2 min read
The Democratic rival to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger acknowledged Tuesday that his aides were responsible for obtaining a controversial audio file in a move that has led to allegations of Web site hacking.

But the campaign manager for Phil Angelides, the state treasurer who is running against Schwarzenegger in the November election, said no laws were broken.

"We believe that these audio files--accessed through a public Web site, requiring no password, and not marked confidential--are a matter of public record and should be made available to the media and the public," said Cathy Calfo, Angelides' campaign manager.

Schwarzenegger's comments recorded in an audio file caused a flap when they were revealed by a leak to the Los Angeles Times by Angelides' aides. In the March conversation between the governor and his chief of staff, Schwarzenegger said blacks and Latinos were "hot" blooded, meaning they were passionate.

"I mean, they (Cubans and Puerto Ricans) are all very hot...they have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them and together that makes it," he said.

Schwarzenegger apologized for the remarks, and on Monday his legal-affairs secretary released a statement saying that two unauthorized people had downloaded audio files in August.

The controversy may center on the design of the Web server called speeches.gov.ca.gov. The California government used it to post MP3 files of Schwarzenegger's speeches in a directory structure that looked like "http://speeches.gov.ca.gov/dir/06-21.htm.htm". (That Web page is now offline, but saved in Google's cache.)

A source close to Angelides told CNET News.com on Tuesday that it was possible to "chop" off the Web links and visit the higher-level "http://speeches.gov.ca.gov/dir/" directory, which had the controversial audio recording publicly viewable. No password was needed, the source said.

Calfo, Angelides' campaign manager, has since characterized the leak to the Los Angeles Times as something done by two aides without her permission.

Katie Levinson, communications director of Californians for Schwarzenegger, denounced the acquisition of the audio file in a statement Tuesday.

"Sadly, the actions by the Angelides campaign come as no surprise and the treasurer should denounce the unethical actions taken on his behalf," Levinson said. "Phil Angelides has a long history of gutter politics, and it is clear this most recent example was a calculated effort to smear the governor's reputation."