Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Schwarzenegger to end relationship with magazines

Schwarzenegger to end relationship with magazines

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday that he will end his multimillion-dollar consulting deal with two fitness magazines that rely heavily on advertising for nutritional supplements.

The governor, who came under fire when critics said the deal represented a conflict of interest, said he will relinquish his title as executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines and forego any compensation.

"I don't want to be paid," Schwarzenegger said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, adding that he wanted to leave no doubt that "the people have my full devotion."

The governor was forced to defend his contract with the magazines after a securities disclosure filed this week showed he would be paid at least $1 million a year for five years to act as a consultant.

"The decision is to discontinue the relationship we have now," he said. "I will continue promoting body building and fighting obesity."

Last year, Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have regulated the use of performance-enhancing substances in high school sports.

That led some lawmakers to accuse the governor of having a conflict of interest: acting on legislation that could hurt the nutritional supplements industry while at the same taking millions of dollars from magazines that rely on the industry for most of their profits.

Schwarzenegger's deal with a subsidiary of American Media Inc., Weider Publications, was disclosed in March 2004. But the amount he was being paid was not made public until the company filed documents Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At the time of the 2004 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 governor has admitted using steroids during his days as a champion body builder, when the substances were legal, but has since denounced them. He has continued to promote nutritional supplements.

"Any food supplement you take, all those are natural and will help you have more energy and help with your performance," the governor said "No reason I thought to outlaw food supplements, something I've been on my whole life."

He also said he will continue writing columns for both magazines but will not be paid. He said he has no plans to return the money from the consulting work "because we haven't done anything wrong."

In vetoing the bill a year ago, the governor said it was flawed because it did not clearly define supplements and failed to adequately address steroid use.

A similar bill is pending this year, and Schwarzenegger said he would be "more than happy" to consider the redrafted version.

"I want to do everything I can to get rid of the performance-enhancing (substances)," he said Friday.

California law allows elected officials to keep outside jobs, and Schwarzenegger does not accept his $175,000 annual salary from the state.

The contract stated that Schwarzenegger would receive 1% of the magazines' advertising revenue each year for five years. The payment was to be no less than $1 million a year but could reach much higher.

The governor's financial disclosure filings with the state showed only that he received an undisclosed amount from American Media, which also publishes The National Enquirer, Star and other celebrity tabloids.

A telephone call to American Media's office in Boca Raton, Fla., went unanswered late Friday.

The SEC filing, which refers to Schwarzenegger only as "Mr. S," also showed that American Media is paying $100,000 a year for five years to the Arnold Classic, an annual bodybuilding competition in Ohio.

Schwarzenegger said Friday that he has had "an extraordinarily close personal and business relationship" with Weider Publications for more than 35 years and saw no reason to end it after he was elected governor in 2003.

"Sometimes there's two different things — there's reality and there's perception, and perception is very powerful," the governor told the AP.