SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Democratic rival Thursday defended his campaign's decision to download a recording of a private meeting in which the governor chattered about "very hot" mixed-race personalities.
Questioned by reporters about the audio tape, state Treasurer Phil Angelides maintained his campaign had done nothing wrong. The issue, he said, is the nature of the governor's comments and attempts by Schwarzenegger aides to "cover up."
On a six-minute portion of the tape, recorded during a private meeting with staff members last March, Schwarzenegger remarked about the fiery temperament that results from the mixing of "black blood" and "Latino blood."
"As I understand it, this audiotape was downloaded from a public Web site. That's very clear," Angelides told reporters after a campaign event.
"What's at issue here are the governor's comments — his deeply offensive comments," Angelides said. "The governor apologized. It's very clear he knows he did something wrong."
Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Matt David criticized the conduct of the Angelides campaign, saying the treasurer "apparently sees nothing wrong with attempting to damage the governor politically by accessing a private portion of the governor's official state Web site, downloading a private conversation and leaking it."
State investigators are looking into how the tape was obtained and disclosed.
The recording of the governor's comments caused a minor controversy last week, with some Democrats complaining bitterly and others saying the remarks amounted to playful banter. The subject of Schwarzenegger's remarks, Republican state Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, said she was not offended.
On the tape, Schwarzenegger and his chief of staff speculate lightheartedly about the ethnic background of 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."
Earlier this week, Angelides' campaign acknowledged staffers downloaded the tape, which was leaked to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper published a story about the governor's remarks Friday.
Angelides did not directly address the leak to the Times but did not criticize any of the actions by his campaign staff.
Schwarzenegger's legal secretary has said the audio files were stored "in a password protected area" of the computer network. His communications director maintains that anyone who strayed into the private area of the Web site should have received a pop-up warning saying the area was for authorized users only.
A Los Angeles talk radio host this week said his show downloaded files from the same Internet address for years and never saw any warning.
Angelides, who built a personal fortune as a Sacramento-area land developer, said Thursday that he had not listened to the tapes. He did not answer a question about what would become of four more hours of audio his campaign downloaded from the Web site.