July 15, 2005

Schwarzenegger to forgo fitness mags payments

By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger, facing criticism for receiving millions of
dollars for his links to two fitness magazines, said on Friday
that he is ending his ties to the publishing group.

Schwarzenegger will receive at least $13 million over five
years for serving as executive editor of Muscle & Fitness" and
"Flex" magazines, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The information, according to a Security and Exchange
Commission filing by publisher American Media Operations,
prompted wide media attention and criticism about a perceived
conflict of interest.

"When I became governor I pledged to put the people of
California front and center," he said in a statement. "I don't
want there to be any question or doubt that the people have my
full devotion."

"Therefore, effective today I will relinquish my title as
executive editor and forego any compensation from the

The statement marks an abrupt reversal for Schwarzenegger,
whose spokesman strongly defended the magazine deal on
Wednesday saying: "My reply is so what, what's the harm?"

The American Media deal had the former Mr. Olympia
receiving $8.15 million over five years for serving as
executive editor of the two magazines. In addition,
Schwarzenegger's firm Oak Productions was to receive one
percent of its net print advertising revenues, with a minimum
payment of $1 million a year.

Critics pointed to Schwarzenegger's veto of a nutritional
supplements bill last year as an area where the arrangement
constituted a conflict of interest. Fitness magazines draw much
of their advertising revenues from such supplements.

In his statement, Schwarzenegger cited his long links to
the magazines, which played a key role in transforming a little
known Austrian into one of the world's best-known people.

"For more than 35 years I have had an extraordinarily close
personal and business relationship with Weider Publications,"
he said. "Given that bodybuilding and fitness have been central
to my life, I saw no reason to discontinue that relationship
when the franchise was sold in 2003."

Schwarzenegger become governor that year as well.

American Media bought Weider Publications -- which had been
owned by Schwarzenegger's mentor Joe Weider -- for $357
million. A spokesman for the company did not immediately return
calls for comment.
(Additional reporting by Jim Christie)