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Gov.'s Computer Security Is Probed

The CHP is investigating a possible breach after a recording of a private talk is made public.

September 12, 2006|Nancy Vogel | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The California Highway Patrol is investigating a possible breach of the governor's computer system after The Times published an audio recording of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger bantering with staff in a private meeting last spring.

Schwarzenegger apologized Friday for comments made on the six-minute recording, which The Times posted Thursday on its website.

Andrea Hoch, the governor's legal affairs secretary, issued a statement Monday saying that the recording had been stored on a private, password-protected section of the governor's computer network. On Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, "an unknown person or persons" downloaded an audio file from that private section, her statement said.

"This access was unauthorized and constitutes a breach of one or more security protocols within the governor's office," the statement said.

Hoch said the governor's office had identified the Internet address used for this action and had forwarded that information to the CHP.

CHP spokesman Tom Marshall said the incident did not necessarily involve hacking.

"We can't confirm anything because we just started the investigation," he said.

The CHP, whose probe was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, is in charge of protecting state property.

Administration officials declined to say whether they believe that the governor's staff was involved in leaking the recorded exchanges among the governor, his chief of staff, a speechwriter and a speech coach. Workers at a private transcription service that handled the recording did not appear to be involved, they said.

In the recorded conversation, the governor describes Republican lawmakers as a "wild bunch" and ascribes the "hot" temperament of Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R-Cathedral City) to a mix of "black blood" and "Latino blood."

Also on the recording, his Democratic chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, calls Assembly Republican Leader George Plescia of San Diego "perky" and likens him to a startled deer and a "Stepford wife."

Garcia said she took no offense at the governor's comments, adding that she often joked with him about being a "hot-blooded Latina."

Some Latino leaders, including Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-El Monte), said the comments reinforced a negative stereotype.

Former Assembly Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), whom the governor refers to on the recording as "Bakersfield boy," said he found the tape funny and no different from his private conversations with Schwarzenegger.

Plescia said he would have T-shirts made for his 31-member Republican caucus that say "Wild Bunch."

Schwarzenegger's Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, said the governor had "used language that is deeply offensive to all Californians and embarrassed our state."

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nancy.vogel@latimes.com

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