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Sacramento Bee
Mar 04, 2008 - 01:00 AM

by Jim Sanders, The Sacramento Bee

The Giving Is Easy In State Capitol, 2007 List Shows

Don't tell Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger it's better to give than receive.

He got the darnedest gifts last year, dozens of them, ranging from $144 in spark plugs to a $60 dog tethering kit.

Numerous actors pitched in, including Clint Eastwood, who gave an $86 clock; Danny DeVito, a $280 food basket; Tom Arnold, $120 in chocolates. Bill Duke, who appeared with Schwarzenegger in "Commando" and "Predator," gave a $75 fruit basket with cheese and tea cookies.

Schwarzenegger reported 90 gifts totaling nearly $14,000 -- including about $2,500 in cigar products and $1,500 in liquor -- in annual disclosure statements filed Monday with the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Spokesman Aaron McLear said the governor appreciates the kindness but that his political decisions are not affected by gifts.

"They're nice mementos of people's good will and appreciation," McLear said. "But the governor always leads by what he thinks is the right direction for California."

Perhaps the most useful gift for the Republican governor, a multimillionaire who accepts no state pay, was $338 in Hurri-Cane crutches from the manufacturer, Christian Roux Ltd., after he broke his right leg while skiing last winter.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, in comparison, reported receiving about $9,100 in gifts, including a $3,240 Christmas gift card from 39 aides who chipped in $25 to $100 apiece.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata reported a much smaller gift total, $1,062. His most expensive item was a $249 convention hotel stay bankrolled by Consumer Attorneys of California.

State law allows politicians to receive gifts totaling up to $390 annually from a single source.

Not all politicians accept gifts, however.

"In what other job in America do people get gifts just for having the job?" said Doug Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. "I think there's a real problem when people consider their job a perpetual birthday party."

Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, gave Schwarzenegger a $325 crystal eagle head. Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan gave a $50 delicatessen sandwich kit.

George Shultz, a state economic adviser and former U.S. secretary of state, gave Schwarzenegger a Ronald Reagan book and a Ronald Reagan magnifying glass, engraved with the words, "Trust but verify."

Nunez's gifts included a $350 ticket from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to attend Hollywood's Oscar awards ceremony. He received more than $1,600 in sports-related tickets or gifts, and about $250 in wine, records show.

Besides gifts, Nunez received $15,702 from the World Economic Forum to attend its gathering last year in Davos, Switzerland, and $4,142 from the William C. Velasquez Institute to help subsidize Nunez's trip to France to study high-speed rail, records show.

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