The leak of an audio file containing embarrassing comments by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to news media has triggered a police probe.
In the recording, the Governator refers to Hispanic Americans as "hot", with "black blood in them", the BBC reports.
Cathy Calfo, campaign manager for Phil Angelides, Schwarzenegger's Democratic rival for governor, said staff on the campaign had downloaded the file from the net. She went on to claim the file was freely available from Schwarzenegger's website, playing down suggestions that Democrats had given the file directly to journalists.
Schwarzenegger's legal adviser Andrea Lynn Hoch said the file was swiped from a password-protected area of the site. Schwarzenegger's staff have handed over computer records to police.
In the pre-internet era, President Nixon recorded his comments for posterity and fear of being misquoted, a practice that backfired spectacularly when the tapes implicated him in the cover-up of the Watergate break-ins. In the tapes, the often uptight and conservative Nixon could be heard swearing and plotting against his numerous enemies, real and imagined.
In excerpts from the tapes published by The Los Angeles Times, Schwarzenegger and his chief of staff discuss whether state Republican legislator Bonnie Garcia is either Cuban or Puerto Rican - a discussion that fails to reach a definite conclusion before Schwarzenegger offers the choice comment that: "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."
Schwarzenegger has apologised for the remarks, which he said made him "cringe". Garcia, displaying admirable party loyalty, said she wasn't put out by the remarks, which emerged two months before state elections.
Quite what need is served by recording Schwarzenegger's comments, let alone putting them online at all, remains unclear.®