Schwarzenegger investigates himself

That's the headline the paper I work at ran yesterday above this AP wire story:

Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger will hire a private investigator to look into allegations that he groped women, but he may keep the results from the state attorney general, a spokesman said Thursday.

Schwarzenegger's reluctance to turn over the results of the investigation stem from remarks Attorney General Bill Lockyer made earlier Thursday. The Democrat said he advised Schwarzenegger that the misconduct allegations "are not going to go away" and he should cooperate with an independent investigation.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman said those statements violated attorney-client privilege and have forced Schwarzenegger to reconsider whether he would provide any information to Lockyer.

Much of this story is baffling. Does Schwarzenegger really think that just because he's been elected governor, the state's attorney general is now his own personal attorney?

As for the private investigator, one has to wonder what Schwarzenegger is thinking, and what possible credibility he thinks this hired hand's investigation will have.

"In regard to a review of allegations that surfaced late in the campaign, the governor-elect had already decided to engage a well-respected investigative firm to look into the allegations," Stutzman said.

What is this investigative firm supposed to "look into"? If the allegations of Schwarzenegger's groping and assaults are true — as he has already admitted at least some of them are — then the governor-elect should be able to recall these acts on his own without the assistance of a private investigator.

What this sounds like, instead, is that Schwarzenegger has hired a bunch of private detectives to dig up every unflattering thing they can on each of Arnold's accusers. That's a standard sleazeball response — attack the women, portray them as "a little bit nutty, a little bit slutty."

The Schwarzenegger campaign has brazenly, and proudly, engaged in this tactic before, as when his campaign spokesman Sean Walsh sent the following e-mail to various media outlets in Los Angeles, as reported by Nikki Finke in L.A. Weekly:

Soon after the Miller-Allred news conference ended, an e-mail addressed to "Reporters and Editors" was sent "FROM Sean Walsh/Schwarzenegger Campaign." The e-mail stated:

"RE RHONDA MILLER & GLORIA ALLRED PARTISAN ATTACK. It has come to our attention from the media that you can access court documents from the followiing [sic] web site http//www.lasuperiorcourt.org/Criminal/. You will have to pay a $4.75 on-line charge to access/search the site. Once you have accessed, the site, type 'Rhonda' in the 'first name' field, and 'Miller' in 'last name' field. We have to believe that as a lawyer, Gloria would have thoroughly checked the facts and background of the individual she presented at a news conference today.

Rhonda Miller is the name of a stuntwoman who says she was groped on two occasions by the governor-elect — on the sets of True Lies and Terminator. It is also, as Walsh knew, the name of a different woman, one with a lengthy criminal history that can be accessed online following the instructions in his e-mail.

The Schwarzenegger campaign has not apologized to Miller for the sleazy smear. Walsh — who continues to work for the governor-elect — insists there is nothing to apologize for, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "We did not make any allegations. I wrote that memo myself. I wrote it very, very carefully."

With such a track record, it seems likely that Schwarzenegger has hired this private investigation firm to dig up/fabricate dirt on all of his accusers (or, if they can't find any, on women with similar names). So why on earth is his spokesman talking about this to the media?

  • Genesis

    I saw this on the front page of my newspaper this morning and nearly choked on my cereal. I guess Schwarzenegger feels the people of California will swallow just about anything…

  • Eli

    The SF Chronicle headline was good for an immature giggle or two:
    Lockyer Calls for Probe of Groping

  • Mike

    If he’s serious about hiring a private investigator, then I vote for Jim Rockford!