Since the 1980’s, rumors have circulated in Hollywood about Arnold Schwarzenegger that would curl the blue hair of your average Republican true-believer. If any one of these rumors were to make headlines in the supermarket tabloids, the governor’s political career would be over within hours.
During his campaign for governor in 2003, a lot of folks in this town were on the edge of their seats waiting for one of the tabloids to score big and drop the dime on Arnold. It never happened. In the last week or so before the election, the Los Angeles Times published an article detailing numerous complaints by women who claimed to have been fondled and groped by Schwarzenegger, mostly on the job at movie and television studios.
These incidents were fairly well known but they had nothing to do with the escapades that have had the town buzzing for so long about Arnold. Those incidents were all, um, consensual.
And then, on November 15, 2003, two days before he was sworn in as governor, Schwarzenegger signed a five-year “consulting” deal with American Media Inc.
Based in Boca Raton, Florida, AMI owns Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines, as well as – you guessed it – National Enquirer, the Globe and the Star tabloids.
Now details of the governor’s consulting gig have come to light:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger accepted a consulting job paying an estimated $8 million over five years to “further the business objectives” of a national publisher of health and bodybuilding magazines.
The contract pays Schwarzenegger 1% of the magazines’ advertising revenue, much of which comes from makers of nutritional supplements. Last year, the governor vetoed legislation that would have imposed government regulations on the supplement industry.
What is that stank? It smells like “conflict of interest” and “corruption.” Indeed:
Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., said: “This is one of the most egregious apparent conflicts of interest that I have seen. This calls into question his judgment as to who he is working for, and it calls into question what he thinks he owes the public.”
He added: “For a governor to have … contracted his decision-making and judgment to a company is a real conflict of interest.”
I’ll say. What about it, governor? He’s too busy to comment on a front page, banner headline story in the state’s largest – and nation’s third largest – newspaper. But his spokesperson explains that it is, well, complicated:
A Schwarzenegger spokeswoman, Margita Thompson, said that his financial holdings were “probably the most complicated of any governor” and that he had complied with all laws for disclosing his income. She said the consulting contract presented “no conflict of interest” because Schwarzenegger did not solicit any advertising.
“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,” Thompson said.
But what about the tabloid angle? The Times mentions it after the jump:
American Media’s publications have been Schwarzenegger boosters since he formed a partnership with the company.
That wasn’t always the case. The National Enquirer published an article in 2001 alleging that Schwarzenegger had had an extramarital affair. Two years later, just before Schwarzenegger signed the contract, American Media produced a 120-page glossy magazine called “Arnold, the American Dream.”
In a new book about Schwarzenegger, author Laurence Leamer said the governor was aware that his contract with AMI would prompt the publisher to end any negative coverage of him. In the book, Schwarzenegger is quoted as saying: “Do you want to work with someone who you are attacking?”
I guess we’ll just have to wait for the other dimes to drop.