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State Treasurer in Porn Scancal

Arizona- Treasurer David Petersen asked two staff members in February if evidence of visits to pornographic Web sites could be sanitized from his computer, sources with direct knowledge of the event say.

The sources said the treasurer’s question came about two weeks after the Attorney General’s Office seized Mr. Petersen’s and other computers and files in an investigation that concluded this week.

Mr. Petersen pleaded guilty yesterday to a class 1 misdemeanor regarding his failure to disclose a $4,200 commission he received from the Character Training Institute for sales of its teaching materials. As part of the plea agreement reached with Attorney General Terry Goddard, Mr. Petersen must resign no later than Dec. 1, when sentencing is scheduled.

State law (A.R.S. 38-448) calls for discipline or dismissal of a state employee who uses “agency owned or agency leased computer equipment to access, download, print or store any information infrastructure files or services that depict nudity, sexual activity, sexual excitement or ultimate sexual acts as defined in section 13-3501.”

“I don’t know how if that applies to elected officials,” said Alan Ecker, spokesman for the Department of Administration.

Arizona Capitol Times requested logs of Mr. Petersen’s Web site visits under the state public records law, but was told they were not available.

“Per our technology team, as a matter of policy, the Arizona State Treasurer’s Office performs reactive monitoring (selective monitoring of individuals suspected of inappropriate use for a short period of time.),” wrote Rhoda Bryce, office manager, in an e-mail response.

“Because of this, there are no log files existing that contain the information requested under this FOI [Freedom of Information] request. Additionally, the treasurer’s laptop was reviewed for web history information.

“While the Attorney General has the capability to recreate web history information utilizing forensic software, we are not in possession of any of this information,” she wrote.

In 2003, Rick Flaaen was fired from his job as Glendale’s city attorney for viewing pornography on a city computer in his home. He sued the city for wrongful termination, and the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Mr. Petersen could not be reached for comment.

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