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Mar 06, 2004 - 01:00 AM
by Alexa H. Bluth, Bee Capitol Bureau
Governor signs on with two magazines Schwarzenegger won't do much heavy lifting, but extra job spurs criticism.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former bodybuilder and Hollywood superstar, has another paying job to add to his resume: magazine editor.
The Republican governor will serve as executive editor of a pair of magazines - Muscle & Fitness, and Flex - run by supermarket tabloid owner American Media Inc., spokesman Rob Stutzman confirmed Friday.
Schwarzenegger's new job will be announced officially today in Columbus, Ohio, where he is taking a break from his political duties for the weekend to host the annual "Arnold Classic" bodybuilding competition.
In the editor's post, Schwarzenegger will continue to write his decade-old "Ask Arnold" column for Muscle & Fitness and will consult on content in both publications, Stutzman said.
The announcement raised some eyebrows in California's political establishment, where some questioned the wisdom of a governor forming a financial alliance with the tabloid industry. Others suggested he might be better advised to focus exclusively on his gubernatorial duties.
One critic of Schwarzenegger's political fund-raising activities called it "just inappropriate for the governor to take another job."
"Doesn't the governor have enough to do running the state of California?" asked Doug Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.
"I have never heard of a governor holding another job, let alone editing a fitness magazine," Heller said. "In addition to just being kind of absurd, it also sheds some light on Schwarzenegger's view of the public office he holds, which is namely that it is just part of the Arnold project."
American Media Chief Executive Officer David Pecker said the governor's role in the monthly magazines will be mostly advisory. He said Schwarzenegger will likely offer his input to the magazines' management via e-mail.
"He's not going to edit the magazine. He's not going to review copy," Pecker said. He said Schwarzenegger would contribute "his vision and the direction of where we should take the magazines."
The magazines currently contain such features as photo spreads and advice columns.
Headlines in this month's Muscle & Fitness include "Abs Special" and "Campus Hot Bodies." The current issue of Flex features a "22-page high-voltage pictorial featuring the hottest bodies in the sport splashing out and bringing some sizzling heat to your wintry days," according to the magazine's Web site.
Schwarzenegger will be paid for the new gig, but Stutzman refused to disclose the amount. Schwarzenegger will be required to reveal a broad estimate of any outside income in his annual statement of economic interests next year.
He is not accepting the $175,000 annual salary he is entitled to as governor, but has other sources of income from his entertainment career that have been placed in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest.
The magazines also have agreed to donate $250,000 a year for at least a half-decade to the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Stutzman said.
Stutzman also said the new post will not siphon any time from the governor's duties as the chief executive of the nation's most populous state.
"This is a relationship and an endeavor that will not have a tremendous demand upon his time but will allow him to have a creative and visionary input" into the magazine and its content, he said.
Friday's news also renewed questions about whether Schwarzenegger's ties to the tabloids have helped him avoid the tawdry treatment the publications often direct at other stars.
Though Schwarzenegger is accustomed to scrutiny by the media, he appeared to receive a reprieve during the gubernatorial recall campaign from the supermarket tabloids, including two owned by American Media - the National Enquirer and the Star - even as mainstream media were reporting allegations of groping against the first-time political candidate.
Near the close of the campaign, American Media published a glossy magazine titled "Arnold, the American Dream," for supermarket sale at $4.95 a copy.
Schwarzenegger's longtime business partner, Joe Weider, sold his publishing interests, including Muscle & Fitness and Flex, to American Media in 2002.
But Pecker said any notion that the publishing empire would censor its coverage of Schwarzenegger is "absolutely not true."
"Anything worthy to be published in the tabloids will be published in the tabloids. There is absolutely no deal at all," Pecker said.
Asked if he believed the tabloids went easy on the governor during his fall recall bid or made any agreement to relax its coverage of him as a result of his new post, Stutzman said, "Not that I'm aware of."
Veteran Democratic political consultant Joe Cerrell said the governor's moonlighting might not go over well publicly because of the magazines' link to the tabloids.
"Yes, he's on a political roll right now. These are good days," Cerrell said. "But, boy, you have to wonder about people who would allow this to happen."
Schwarzenegger won't be the first governor in the nation to hold an outside job. Former professional wrestler and then-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura came under criticism when he worked as a football announcer and wrestling referee while serving as that state's chief executive.
"I don't see any reason to draw comparisons between Jesse Ventura and Gov. Schwarzenegger," Stutzman told reporters Friday. He added that the governor has no plans to stop his involvement in the bodybuilding and weightlifting communities, where he has built long-term relationships.
"It's an identity he's long been associated with; it's part of the identity that the voters were aware of when they elected him to this office," he said.
The Bee's Alexa H. Bluth can be reached at (916) 326-5542 or email@example.com. Margaret Talev of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report from Columbus.
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