Nobody can buy me," California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger boasted last week at Yahoo!'s headquarters in Silicon Valley. Just two days later, the wealthy Republican--who campaigned on his self-proclaimed independence from special interests, and forgoes his $175,000 state salary--was trying hard to prove it after the Sacramento Bee reported that he had accepted a mondo free-lance gig from a muscle-magazine publisher. According to documents filed with the SEC, just days before taking office in 2003, Schwarzenegger signed a five-year consulting deal, worth at least $1 million annually, with a subsidiary of American Media Inc., publisher of Muscle & Fitness and Flex. His pay was pegged in part to ad revenues, and last September the Governor vetoed a bill that would have imposed regulations on high school athletes' use of performance-enhancing supplements, which advertise heavily in the magazines.
Schwarzenegger, a former steroid user who now denounces the illegal drugs in his physical-fitness crusade, says he vetoed the bill because the language was "unclear" and "most dietary supplements are safe." But after a couple of days of attacks, he announced he would sever ties with the magazines. "I don't want there to be any question or doubt that the people have my full devotion," he said in a statement. It remains to be seen whether the people of California harbor such doubts; his approval ratings have already plummeted to 37%, down from 57% a year ago. "A lot of voters were looking to him to be their hero," says Kim Alexander of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. Now he's looking dangerously like a politician. --By Laura A. Locke