SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) was hit with another ethics complaint over his magazine contracts Tuesday, while a judge threatened to hold him in contempt of court for suspending the state's hospital staffing rules.
The ethics complaint, filed by the California Democratic Party, was the second to allege Schwarzenegger broke state ethics laws by serving as a paid consultant to fitness magazines (search) that derive most of their profits from the nutritional supplements (search) industry.
Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation last year that would have regulated nutritional supplements.
The complaints claim a connection between the veto and the multimillion-dollar contract. The governor doesn't believe there was a conflict of interest, Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson said Tuesday.
"It's a diversionary tactic by political players who are the champions of the status quo and don't want us talking about the reforms we need to get California back on track," she said.
The first complaint was filed by a Petaluma couple who say their son's death in 2002 was tied to steroid use. The Fair Political Practices Commission has 120 days to act on them.
Also Tuesday, a Sacramento judge scheduled an Aug. 17 hearing to determine if Schwarzenegger and two aides should be held in contempt of court for repeated attempts to suspend a law requiring hospitals to hire more nurses.
The administration reissued emergency regulations blocking new nurse staffing requirements — despite a permanent injunction barring the regulations.
A spokeswoman for the state Health and Human Services Agency, Sabrina Demayo Lockhart, said the regulations were reissued for technical reasons to "preserve appeal rights."
Court spokeswoman Pam Reynolds said the judge was researching the possible penalties if she finds the governor or another administration official in contempt.
The rules the administration suspended require hospitals' general medical units to have one nurse for every five patients, instead of one for every six patients.
Hospitals argued that a nursing shortage prevented them from meeting the staffing requirements, which were required by a 1999 law.