SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday that he will end his multimillion-dollar consulting deal with two fitness magazines that rely heavily on advertising for nutritional supplements.
The governor, who came under fire when critics said the deal represented a conflict of interest, said he will relinquish his title as executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines and forego any compensation.
"I don't want to be paid," Schwarzenegger said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
The governor was forced to defend his contract with the magazines after a securities disclosure filed this week showed he would be paid at least $1 million a year for five years to act as a consultant.
Under the contract, he would receive 1 percent of the magazines' ad revenue each year for five years, a sum that could total $5 million.
"The decision is to discontinue the relationship we have now," he said. "I will continue promoting body building and fighting obesity."
Last year, Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have regulated the use of performance-enhancing substances in high school sports.
That led some lawmakers to accuse the governor of having a conflict of interest: acting on legislation that could hurt the nutritional supplements industry while at the same taking millions of dollars from magazines that rely on the industry for most of their profits.
Bill sponsor Sen. Jackie Speier, a Democrat, called on Schwarzenegger to cut off all ties with the magazines. "Whether it is an actual conflict or not, it certainly gives the appearance of being a conflict," Speier said.
Independent political observers agreed, saying the contract showed a lapse in judgment by the Republican governor.
"This is one of the most egregious apparent conflicts of interest that I have seen. This calls into question his judgment as to who he is working for, and it calls into question what he thinks he owes the public," said Larry Noble, executive director for the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.
State law allows elected officials to keep outside jobs.
The payments, revealed Wednesday in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are from American Media Operations, a subsidiary of the company that publishes magazines including Flex and Muscle & Fitness.
Margita Thompson, the governor's spokeswoman, said earlier that Schwarzenegger had disclosed all his financial holdings and added that the deal with the fitness magazines does not represent a conflict of interest.
"The governor did not direct sales or marketing activities of American Media and did not have personal contact with any advertisers to generate the advertising revenue," she said.