Conflict of interest, anyone?

So we find out today, thanks to the Sac Bee and the LA Times that our Governor is in a contract that will pay him anywhere between $5 and $8 million over the next five years as a consultant to a bodybuilding magazine publisher, which relies heavily on advertising revenue from the dietary supplements industry. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that just last year, the Governor vetoed a bill by Sen. Jackie Speier that would have regulated the supplements’ use in high school sports.
Margita Thompson, the Governor’s spokesperson, apparently is following White House spokesman Scott McClellan’s lead in terms of laughable statements to the press, as she tried to make the argument that because Schwarzenegger wasn’t actually selling the advertising, there was no conflict. Never mind the part about his salary being directly related to the amount of adverstising sold!
If you needed more insight into how the Governor’s financial ties to American Media Inc. is a conflict of interest, the AP checks out a piece in the latest issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine:

The article details the bodybuilding industry’s efforts to block state and federal regulations on nutritional supplements. It also proclaims the support of a powerful spokesman, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The story describes how Schwarzenegger attended a private meeting with bodybuilding executives at the Arnold Classic in March to vow a united front in the battle to keep supplements widely available. Last year, the governor vetoed legislation seeking to regulate the use of supplements in high school sports.
“Gov. Schwarzenegger gave his support in ways both emblematic and tangible,” wrote author Shawn Perine, for the issue that hit newsstands this month. “He urged all of us in the industry to stand together and speak loudly and clearly as a cohesive voice to deliver the message that supplements are not only safe but beneficial when taken as directed.”

Speier is back again this year with SB 37, a similar meaure. If Schwarzenegger were a legislator, he would have to recuse himself from voting on it. The Governor cannot recuse himself, and therefore he needs to be extra sure he’s not taking money on the side from industries who have business with the state. But what Schwarzenegger really needs to do is something he’s not fond of: admit he was wrong and apologize. Obviously, he should also return the money he has collected thus far and completely sever ties with the magazine publisher.
But of course, that means he would no longer have a business relationship with the tabloids that America Media, Inc. also owns (like National Enquirer and Star), which conveniently haven’t printed anything negative about him since a reported meeting in 2003 before he entered the recall race.
It really is unbecoming of our state’s top elected official, and it needs to be addressed by the Governor himself.