SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) came under fire Thursday for accepting millions of dollars from fitness magazines in a consulting deal that critics say represents a clear conflict of interest.
Schwarzenegger is being paid about $8 million over five years to serve as a consultant for several magazines published by American Media Inc. (search), including Flex and Muscle & Fitness (search), according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
The publications derive much of their profit from advertisements for nutritional supplements. Last year, Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill seeking to crack down on the use of performance-enhancing substances in high school sports.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Jackie Speier, called on Schwarzenegger to sever his ties with the publisher.
"The governor of the state of California makes some important decisions every day. Today, he has to make a decision about a conflict of interest — his own," Speier said during a Capitol news conference.
Schwarzenegger's office had no immediate response. On Wednesday, after the SEC filing, a spokeswoman for the governor said the arrangement does not represent a conflict of interest.
"The governor did not direct sales or marketing activities of American Media and did not have personal contact with any advertisers to generate the advertising revenue," spokeswoman Margita Thompson told the Los Angeles Times.
The governor does not accept his $175,000 annual salary from the state, and California law allows elected officials to keep outside jobs.
Schwarzenegger's consulting contract pays him 1 percent of the magazines' advertising revenue each year for five years, a sum that could total $8 million.
A spokesman for the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said Schwarzenegger hid from the public "a significant source of revenue that was given to him to advocate for the interest of an industry."
Schwarzenegger's failure to reveal the deal to the public and his decision to veto a bill that would have regulated the supplements industry "deserves legislative hearings and could possibly lead to a charge of misconduct in office," foundation President Jamie Court said.
The governor's financial disclosure filings with the state show only that he received an undisclosed amount from American Media.
Schwarzenegger writes monthly columns for Muscle & Fitness and Flex, and last year announced that he had agreed to serve as executive editor for both magazines.
At the time of the announcement, Schwarzenegger said he would take a salary that was "petty compared to the movies." The magazines also agreed to donate $250,000 a year to the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness.
The SEC filing, which refers to Schwarzenegger as "Mr. S," also shows that American Media is paying $100,000 a year for five years to the Arnold Classic, an annual bodybuilding competition in Ohio.
The bill that Schwarzenegger vetoed last year would have required high school student athletes to pledge not to use performance-enhancing substances, banned some substances and barred supplement makers from sponsoring school events.
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said key parts of the bill were unclear and that it was focused erroneously on dietary supplements rather than on steroids, which he has acknowledged using during his bodybuilding career, when they were legal.