SACRAMENTO — A Los Angeles radio station said it used the same procedure to access a private portion of the governor’s website that his Democratic rival’s campaign used to embarrass him last week with a leaked recording.
“We’ve been hacking them for years, if it’s hacking,” Jason Nathanson, former producer of the Jon Ziegler show on KFI 640-AM in Los Angeles, said on the show Tuesday night.
State Treasurer’s campaign manager Phil Angelides admitted on Tuesday that two staffers leaked to the Los Angeles Times a recording of the governor joking in his office with his staff. The governor apologized for remarks he made about a Hispanic lawmaker after the Times article appeared.
The governor’s campaign accused the Angelides campaign of unethical behavior for downloading the recording and leaking it to the Times, and the governor’s office referred the matter to the California Highway Patrol for investigation.
Angelides has yet to comment on the leak, which put her campaign on the defensive. His campaign highlighted Tuesday’s KFI program at The Associated Press.
Angelides spokeswoman Amanda Crumley said the program supports the campaign’s claim that Schwarzenegger’s office itself is responsible for setting up private records on its own website.
“It further undermines their savage accusations in this whole matter,” she said. “The Schwarzenegger campaign made a mistake, and now they’re trying to cover it up.”
Ziegler, a harsh conservative critic of the governor and also of Angelides, said he believed it was legitimate for his station to use the recordings because they were so readily available on the governor’s public website.
“It was all extremely public,” he said in an interview Wednesday with the AP. “We found it by chance.”
Ziegler said on the show that he used recordings made by the governor’s office of interviews other news outlets had done with Schwarzenegger that were “not publicly released.”
Nathanson said he came across the audio files while trying to find a link the governor’s press office sent him.
“I typed in some wrong numbers and got a whole list of all the governor’s speeches, interviews, all the public things he’s done for years,” Nathanson said on the show. Tuesday. “And there’s a whole directory they had on their site, and it was public. It wasn’t private. There was no password required. There was nothing protected.
Nathanson said when the Angelides campaign explained Tuesday how its employees uploaded the leaked recording to the governor’s website, he realized he had done the same thing.
“It’s the exact same website we were using,” he said, though he added that he had never found a recording of a private conversation in the governor’s office like the one that the Angelides campaign leaked.
The governor’s legal secretary, Andrea Hoch, said in a statement that the leaked file and others that were uploaded by the Angelides campaign were stored “in a password-protected area” of the governor’s computer network. However, the statement did not say that a password was needed to access files found by Nathanson and the Angelides campaign. Nor does it refer to piracy.
Governor’s spokesman Adam Mendelsohn argues that anyone who strays into the website’s private area should have received a pop-up warning that reads, “This system is for authorized users for authorized use only.”
But Ziegler said he’s never seen a pop-up.
“There were no passwords; there were no creepy warnings – nothing like remotely,” he said in an interview.
The Angelides campaign this week released the URL — or internet address — used by its employees to access the governor’s website. Nathanson, the former producer, said he used the same address.
This part of the Governor’s site has since been taken offline.
Mendelsohn said he was unaware the radio station was using the private recordings and said the administration did not know what “Ziegler’s show is referring to.” He argued that this was different from what the Angelides campaign had done.
“The radio show did not enter and access private conversations and secretly leak them to a newspaper,” he said. “This is a fundamentally different set of circumstances with the intent to harm the governor.”
Lee Tien, a senior attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he doesn’t think there’s a case yet to decide whether cutting off a web address, as the Angelides and Nathanson campaign did, is illegal. .
But he said he doubted it was because it’s so common.
“Basically, you’re just messing with whatever URL you put in your browser,” he said. “It’s hard to see how this could be unauthorized access.”