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September 13, 2006
Angelides Staff Hacks?

Last week, anonymous sources released an audio file of a telephone conversation in which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made reference to a Latina legislator as "very hot". The heat may now focus on the Governator's political opponent in the upcoming election, as the campaign of Phil Angelides acknowledged that they released the audio:

The campaign of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Democratic rival acknowledged Tuesday that it downloaded — and leaked to the media — a recording of a private meeting in which the governor described a Hispanic legislator as having a "very hot" personality.

But Cathy Calfo, campaign manager for Democrat Phil Angelides, said the campaign had done nothing wrong because the file was available publicly on the governor's Web site.

"No one hacked," Calfo said at a news conference to address the role played by the Angelides campaign, first reported by The Sacramento Bee. "They accessed information that was available to the public."

Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn said someone would have had to snoop to find the audio file.

"The file that was leaked to the Los Angeles Times was in a private area of the governor's server not accessible to the public without manipulation of information," he said.

The Schwarzenegger campign has called the California Highway Patrol -- the state's equivalent to state troopers -- to investigate the incident. If the audio file was stored in a secure section of the server, then the campaign staffers can be prosecuted for hacking, which is a felony. Other laws may also have been broken by the publication of the call, which technically requires the approval of at least one of the parties in most jurisdictions.

However, even if the file was not properly secured, it hardly reflects well on the Angelides campaign, and their response is even worse. The proper response should have been the immediate termination of anyone involved in either the theft of the file or the leak to the newspaper, and an apology for the use of a dirty trick. Arguing that their campaign did nothing wrong as long as they didn't need a password to snoop around Schwarzenegger's servers demonstrates that the Angelides campaign has no sense of ethics at all. It's the equivalent of explaining away Watergate -- which featured a burglary of political offices to gain access to private data -- by saying no one bothered to lock the office door.

If Calfo and Angelides continue to employ these sneaks, Californians should wonder what other kinds of political snoopery they can expect from an Angelides administration. Voters in the Golden State should recheck their locks and protect their data more zealously than ever.

UPDATE: My friend and former blogging partner Dafydd at Big Lizards has more on this story:

If we follow Weintraub's reasoning, that means if I forget and leave my front door unlocked, you have the legal right to burgarize the joint.

Morally and ethically, whenever an unauthorized person is trolling around the private area of someone else's website, he is hacking -- whether security was adequate or not. It's completely irrelevant, no matter what the law says.

The lack of good security procedures does not release Democrats from the necessity to act in a morally responsible way, any more than the lack of a good lock releases them from moral responsibility for black-bagging Republican campaign offices and Xeroxing donor lists.

Am I an anachronism? Is it now the general belief in America that it's morally acceptable to lift anything not literally nailed down? That if there isn't a secure enough lock, then it's all right to steal? Is that the logical end result of teenagers "ripping" music they want to hear but don't want to pay for?

Morally and ethically, the California Democratic Party gave up the ghost yesterday.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 13, 2006 5:34 AM

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» Dirty Tricks from Blue Crab Boulevard
A recording of a private staff meeting of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was stolen and leaked to the press by his Democratic challenger's campaign. The incident, which caused Schwarzenegger to have to issue an apology to ... [Read More]

Tracked on September 13, 2006 8:01 AM

» Governor Schwarzenegger Thinks Latin Women are Hot from UrbanGrounds
Most Latin women I know (and I know a lot of hot Latin women — I live in Texas, remember) think of themselves as “hot-blooded Latinas”. In fact, Ms. Garcia says she describes herself as a “hot-blooded Latina” all the time,... [Read More]

Tracked on September 13, 2006 9:58 AM


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