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Philadelphia mayor says he's not target of investigation

Sources: FBI planted bug in Street's office

Philadelphia Mayor John Street appears on CNN's
Philadelphia Mayor John Street appears on CNN's "American Morning" on Thursday. A mayoral election is less than four weeks away.

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Law enforcement and government sources say the FBI planted an electronic bugging device in Philadelphia Mayor John Street's office. CNN's Jason Carroll reports (October 9)
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PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Philadelphia Mayor John Street declared Thursday he is not the target of a federal investigation -- despite the discovery of a listening device in his office that authorities say was planted by the FBI.

The discovery of the device comes one month before the mayoral election, and Street campaign aides have suggested the bugging could be political shenanigans.

But an FBI spokeswoman, while not confirming any corruption investigation, cast doubt on the listening device having any connection to the mayoral race. "We do not believe that it has anything to do with the election," spokeswoman Linda Vizi said.

Street, locked in a tough re-election fight against Republican Sam Katz, said he doesn't know why his office was bugged.

"I've been an elected official now for 24 years, and I value my integrity very highly," Street, a Democrat, told CNN. "And this speculation about whether or not I'm a target of any federal investigation has caused some concern."

Street said the U.S. attorney's office told one of his advisers that Street is not a target of a federal investigation. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia, however, would neither confirm nor deny Street's characterization. Spokesman Rich Manieri would only say that Street's "status in this matter" has been explained to him.

Police discovered the device in the ceiling above Street's desk during a routine security check and turned it over to the FBI. A senior federal government source and two law enforcement sources told CNN that the FBI planted the device.

Street administration officials have said they are cooperating with two investigations into alleged parking ticket fixing and the awarding of airport contracts.

Democrats and Republicans have called on the FBI to explain itself, saying any information on any investigation is critical in light of the upcoming election.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, on Thursday slammed the FBI's "horrible performance" in the matter. He called on federal officials to stand before TV cameras and speak frankly about what is going on.

He faulted the FBI for saying the device was not connected to a political campaign, a move that, he said, appeared to clear Republicans of any wrongdoing.

"But the FBI spokesman won't tell us anything else ... They won't tell the people of Philadelphia who in four weeks have to decide whether to re-elect a mayor or not," Rendell said.

Katz, defeated by Street four years ago, was cautious in his remarks Wednesday and said any "innuendo" that Republicans are to blame is unfair. Katz asked for the situation "to be clarified as quickly as possible."

The senior U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, a Republican who is a former prosecutor, also called on the FBI tell the public why an electronic bug was found in Street's office.

"Because of enormous public importance of the upcoming mayoral election, the Department of Justice should release all information concerning the issue related to the bugging of Mayor Street's office, so long as no potential defendant's rights are compromised and no harm will come to any pending investigation," Specter said in a written statement.

The mayoral election is November 4.

Vizi, the FBI spokeswoman, said there would be no statements or news conferences Thursday. "I am bound by Department of Justice guidelines and federal law by what I can say, which means I can say only what I said."

CNN correspondents Jason Carroll, Kelli Arena and Deborah Feyerick and producers Terry Frieden and Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report.


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