RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The state's House speaker said Monday he had granted his chief of staff a leave of absence pending an investigation into alleged Republican eavesdropping on Democratic leaders' conference calls.

The name of chief of staff Claudia Tucker surfaced on Wednesday when investigators said they found her cellular telephone number on a list of numbers logged in to one of the Democratic calls.

Tucker has not commented on the investigation. She has not been charged.

House Speaker S. Vance Wilkins said Tucker requested the leave on Sunday.

"It is an unfortunate reality that the political situation surrounding the eavesdropping investigation is hampering her ability to address potential legal issues and is also distracting attention away from the daily business of the office," the Republican speaker said in a statement. "By granting Claudia leave, it is my hope we can separate the politics from the law."

The action comes after the state GOP executive director, Edmund Matricardi III, was indicted two weeks ago on four felony counts alleging he illegally monitored two Democratic telephone calls in March. During the calls, Gov. Mark R. Warner, several top Democratic lawmakers, party officials and their lawyers discussed legal strategy for their pending court battle over redistricting.

Matricardi's lawyer said he didn't violate state law.

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