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Radio Station Says It Also Easily Accessed Governor's Audio

September 14, 2006|Nancy Vogel and Jordan Rau | Times Staff Writers

SACRAMENTO — A popular Los Angeles radio station Wednesday disputed the Schwarzenegger administration's claim that the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides improperly obtained audiotapes of the governor bantering with staff.

On Monday's John Ziegler talk show on KFI-AM (640), a former producer for the show said that he had many times accessed the same trove of audiotapes without a password and without hacking.

A six-minute audiotape published by The Times last week included Schwarzenegger and his chief of staff making comments about several lawmakers. Their conversation was recorded last spring by a speechwriter. After The Times published the tape, the governor apologized for the comments, including one in which he ascribed the "hot" personality of Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R-Cathedral City) to a mix of "black blood" and "Latino blood."

The Angelides campaign said one of its researchers had found the audiotape by backtracking from a link released by the Schwarzenegger press office.

Angelides campaign officials said a researcher downloaded the tape without a password and without hacking.

Schwarzenegger officials insisted that the website was private and that the recording was improperly, perhaps illegally, obtained. They asked the California Highway Patrol to investigate.

On Wednesday, the Angelides campaign released a tape of Ziegler's Monday evening radio show on KFI.

"As much as many people out there might want to believe the Phil Angelides campaign was in fact breaking the law by hacking into Arnold Schwarzenegger's website," Ziegler said, "we do not believe this was remotely the case. The reason: because we've been doing the same thing for months."

Ziegler, who supports the Libertarian candidate for governor, interviewed his show's former producer, Jason Nathanson, who said, "We've been hacking them for years, if this is hacking."

Nathanson said he got a link one day from Schwarzenegger's press office and "typed in a few numbers wrong," retrieving a cache of audiotapes of the governor's speeches and interviews.

"It wasn't private, there was no password needed, there was nothing protected," he said, "and we would go in there and we would take the audio for our show and we would play it all the time."

Angelides campaign spokeswoman Amanda Crumley said, "This further undermines the Schwarzenegger campaign's bogus and outrageous claims of hacking and their continued efforts to mislead both the public and the press."

Schwarzenegger communications director Adam Mendelsohn said credentialed media such as radio stations are given limited access to some recordings of the governor, but that they would never have been allowed to get private recordings.

"It is unclear what website the talk show is referring to," Mendelsohn said. "This is a fundamentally different issue. The Angelides campaign went to a private site, downloaded a private conversation and leaked it to a newspaper."

Nathanson said he tried the website again Monday and "it was totally blocked."

nancy.vogel@latimes.com

jordan.rau@latimes.com

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