Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did not report that tabloid publisher American Media Inc gave US$250,000 to one of his favorite charities this year -- a move critics say may violate state ethics law.
The publisher of the National Enquirer and popular bodybuilding magazines donated the money to the nonprofit California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, according to documents American Media filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission describing the end of the company's business relationship with Schwarzenegger.
But the Fair Political Practices Commission has no record of the gift, a spokesman told the San Francisco Chronicle Friday.
Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman Margita Thompson said the contribution was disclosed last year.
"The amount of the charitable contribution was disclosed in March of 2004 about the same time the announcement was made that the governor would become executive editor of American Media's magazines Muscle & Fitness and Flex," she said.
The donation to the charity was part of a 2003 contract with Schwarzenegger in which he was named executive editor.
American Media spokesman Stuart Zakim said his company agreed to give US$1.25 million over five years to the charity. This was the first of those donations.
Under California ethics law, elected officials are required to file reports detailing donations of more than US$5,000 made at their behest or solicited by an agent on their behalf. Those reports must be filed within 30 days of the donation.
The law attempts to prevent politicians from using their political influence to force people to make contributions to outside groups. It also stops politicians from secretly funneling donors' money to groups controlled by a friend or relative.
Disclosing that politicians solicit for other organizations is as important as showing the source of their own campaign contributions, said Steve Levin, political reform project manager at the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles.
Thompson said that "the governor did not solicit the contributions."
Zakim said he would not comment on the terms of the contract or the nature of the negotiations. But he said the gift was consistent with the editorial mission of the company.
"It was made in support of what the governor believes, in his beliefs about physical fitness. We support those beliefs,'' he said.
Schwarzenegger's relationship with the tabloid publisher has come under scrutiny. On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported the company had arranged a US$20,000 confidentiality agreement with a woman who said she once had a relationship with the actor.
Schwarzenegger ended his business relationship with American Media last month amid criticism for vetoing a bill regulating food supplements while taking money from magazines that profit from the industry.