NY AG candidate Pirro calls for investigation into leak of document, vows to stay in race

Thursday, September 28th 2006, 12:14 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A defiant Jeanine Pirro said Thursday she is determined to stay in the state attorney general's race and will seek a federal investigation into the leak of sealed court documents that state she planned to secretly record her husband, whom she suspected of having an affair.

``There needs to be a federal investigation of the felony of leaking sealed court documents,'' the Republican Pirro told the New York Hispanic Clergy Association in New York City. ``That's the only crime that occurred here. And it's an outrage to the people of this state.

``The only thing I'm concerned about now, is keeping my family together, as I've said for many years, and making sure we have a special prosecutor appointed,'' she said, receiving a standing ovation.

Pirro, 55, said she is more determined than ever to stay in the race against Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

At a news conference Wednesday, Pirro acknowledged that she was under a federal investigation for considering taping her husband, lobbyist Albert Pirro.

``Sometime last year, I came to believe that my husband was seeing another woman,'' Pirro said. ``In the midst of matrimonial discord, I was angry and had him followed to see if what I suspected was true. Although I spoke about taping him, there was no taping by me of anyone. There was anger, and frustration, and disappointment.''

Pirro said the investigation into her actions is the result of a partisan, overreaching federal prosecutor.

U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia confirmed in a statement his office was investigating but declined to offer details. But, Garcia said, ``we do not take politics into account in deciding either the subject matter or timing of our investigations.''

Two people familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Pirro contacted disgraced former New York city police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, now a private security consultant, in the middle of 2005 to discuss possibly placing a recorder in a room to listen in on her husband.

``Placing a recording device on one's property to intercept a conversation involving one's spouse is not a crime,'' Pirro said in a statement to The Associated Press. ``I am being investigated for speaking in anger about doing something that it is lawful to do, and which I didn't do.''

WNBC-TV, citing transcripts of Kerik and Pirro's conversations, reported that Pirro, in often profanity-laced terms, floated the idea of bugging the family boat.

The location of a bug could matter because in interpreting if a recording was legal, authorities may have to determine if the boat counts as a marital residence. Pirro's husband, a millionaire lobbyist, reportedly owns the boat.

Albert Pirro served time in federal prison after being convicted on tax fraud charges in June 2000 and embarrassed his wife by fathering an illegitimate daughter after they were married.

Pirro, who is seeking to become the state's first female attorney general, said she was told of the investigation by FBI agents last week.

Political observers said Pirro, who is trailing Cuomo by 53 percent to 36 percent in a Siena College Research Institute poll, can ill afford the new embarrassment.

``She doesn't have any points to give and this only creates a darker cloud over her candidacy,'' said Lee Miringoff, head of Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion. ``It's been one problem after another.''

Pirro's has had a stretch of pitfalls since last year, when she announced she would run for U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. While making the announcement, she was left speechless for 32 seconds because a page was missing from her prepared text.

Shortly after that, news reports said her husband, without her knowledge, was pushing an effort with top state Republicans, including Gov. George Pataki, to get her out of the U.S. Senate race.

Albert Pirro did not deny those reports. ``Any private conversations I have had were solely intended to support Jeanine's political aspirations,'' he said.

Pirro dropped her four-month Senate campaign in December after failing to generate much interest or raise much money. Instead, she said, she would run for attorney general.

Just last week, she came under fire from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association because she scheduled a news conference at ground zero. The PBA said Pirro's choice of venue was inappropriate to use ``as a backdrop for political campaigning.''

Pirro canceled the event, citing scheduling problems.