On Saturday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger canceled a multimillion dollar consulting deal with American Media Inc. , the publisher of muscle magazines and supermarket tabloids like The National Enquirer and The Star. As far as he was concerned, that should have ended any criticism of him by Demcrats and the press.
Well, not so fast, Herr Gubernator!
“We think that the governor’s actions here are pretty outrageous,” said Lance Olson, general counsel for the state Democratic Party. “He’s lined his pockets and he’s vetoed legislation that directly affects those people giving him money. And we think that violates several pretty clear provisions in the Political Reform Act.”
Olson will file a complaint against the governor Officials with the Fair Political Practices Commission, charging him with breaking conflict-of-interest and gift laws.
Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) is said to be in discussions about holding legislative hearings into Schwarzenegger’s contract with the Florida-based magazine company.
But, wait. The governor resigned from the gig. That means the controversy is over! Why? Because he said so:
Margita Thompson, a spokeswoman for the governor, said there was no need for hearings, or an FPPC inquiry. In any case, she said, the issue is “moot” because Schwarzenegger ended the deal on Friday, a day after financial details were disclosed in newspaper reports. “There’s no legal conflict of interest,” Thompson said.
That may be the way it works for big stars in Hollywood, but politics works a little differently.
Nuñez said he may want a legislative committee with subpoena power to examine the deal. But he said he wants to avoid a “circus” atmosphere. He said he may delay a decision on hearings for several weeks while he consults with advisors.
A delay could mean that any hearings would spill into the campaign over several initiatives that Schwarzenegger has placed on the ballot for a fall special election — which could prove embarrassing for the governor.
But for Arnold, being governor of Cowweefornya is just a big hilarious joke, anyways:
Schwarzenegger took a few questions about the deal in Oakland on Monday while signing legislation to complete construction on a new span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
“It’s the way it is in life — you encounter problems and you try to eliminate them as quickly as possible and then move on,” Schwarzenegger said, according to Associated Press. He quipped that his wife, Maria Shriver, might be more upset than he was to relinquish millions of dollars.
“I have no problem about the money, but my wife has a little problem with that. She thinks it means less diamonds or something like that,” Schwarzenegger said.
Stop, Gov! You’re killing me!
Speaking of jokes, there’s this priceless quote from Arnold in an earlier, more optimistic time:
On Oct. 8, 2003 — the day after he was elected — Schwarzenegger held a news conference and said he would make no movies or let his attention lapse while serving as governor.
“The people of California want me to be the governor, and I would do that if nothing else,” he said. “I will work as the governor. I will work as much as I can, even if it is around the clock. There will be no time for movies or anything else. I will pay full attention to this job.”
(I stand by my prediction that Arnold will announce a new movie deal by the end of this year.)