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Inside Politics

Schwarzenegger to hire firm to look into groping allegations

California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger
California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Arnold Schwarzenegger
California Recall

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger will hire an investigative firm to look into allegations by several women that he groped them but may refuse to allow California's attorney general to review it, a spokesman said Thursday.

The revelation came hours after the state attorney general's office addressed the complaints, saying any investigation of them "won't simply go away by continuing to ignore it."

Attorney General Bill Lockyer met with Schwarzenegger on Wednesday and the two discussed several matters, including allegations that the actor and former bodybuilder groped several women and the possibility that independent investigations by local law enforcement agencies could "hound" the new governor, said Lockyer spokesman Nathan Barankin.

In a news conference Thursday, Lockyer told reporters he urged Schwarzenegger to allow an independent third party to investigate possible criminal liability over the alleged incidents.

Barankin said the attorney general's office does not plan to conduct its own investigation because it's "up to local district attorneys and local law enforcement agencies," should they be warranted.

Later, Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman held a conference call and issued a statement saying Lockyer violated attorney-client privilege by divulging "the content of communication between himself and the governor-elect."

"Attorney General Lockyer's breach of that confidentiality is serious, and the governor-elect is very concerned about this development," the statement said.

The spokesman said the governor-elect made a decision a few weeks ago to hire a "well-respected investigative firm" to look into the allegations against him, and that he was going to turn over the results of the investigation to the attorney general.

"He will now reconsider that option," the statement said.

Stutzman said the Schwarzenegger administration would disclose the name of the firm once an agreement is reached to begin the investigation.

A spokeswoman for Lockyer told CNN there was no breach of attorney-client privilege.

"The attorney general was giving advice to a friend," said spokeswoman Hallye Jordan. "There is only one governor at a time. He (Schwarzenegger) has not been sworn into office."

Jordan said the attorney general has continued to urge Schwarzenegger to cooperate with any inquiries into the allegations of inappropriate behavior.

"Those claims have not gone away. He should not duck the issue," said Jordan.

Lockyer is a Democrat, Schwarzenegger a Republican. Shortly after the election, Lockyer said publicly he voted for the former actor in the recall race. Schwarzenegger is scheduled to be sworn in as the state's new chief executive Monday, November 17.

"I can't speak to what the attorney general's motives are, whether it's political motivation or poor lawyering, but there was disappointment here on this end," Stutzman said.

Days before he was elected in California's October 7 recall balloting, the Los Angeles Times ran a series of stories in which 16 women accused the action movie hero and former bodybuilder of having sexually harassed and humiliated them over a 30-year period in incidents that occurred on movie sets, at gymnasiums and elsewhere.

After the report, Schwarzenegger issued a general apology for "behaving badly sometimes" but added "many of the things in there are not true because that's not my behavior." (Full story)

Californians, angry over a flagging economy and disenchanted with Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, cut short his second term by recalling the career politician less than a year into his second term and selected Schwarzenegger from a field of 135 candidates to succeed him.

CNN producer Stan Wilson contributed to this report.

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