Schwarzenegger Fights Back

Gina Agular, 29, right, Coral Perez, left, and an unidentified colleague apply some make-up prior to a photo session in Mexico City, Nov. 24, 2010. AP

In a follow-up to his investigation on last week's "Evening News," CBS News correspondent Vince Gonzales reports California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has responded to say he's not influenced by donations.

During a single day last month, Schwarzenegger vetoed three bills — and also accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from groups who opposed those bills.

Was the governor in fact accommodating the special interests he had once vowed to fight?

"It must be a coincidence," Schwarzenegger told CBS station KCBS reporter Dave Bryan on Sunday. "But the fact of the matter is different."

The governor said he's not aware of who is donating money to his campaign and is not influenced by them.

"There will be no such thing in my administration as money and favors," Schwarzenegger said. "Because I'm fighting for the people and not for the people who are giving me money."

Last year, however, he vetoed a bill to regulate nutritional supplements. Then it was revealed he had a secret, multi-million dollar contract with muscle magazines that depended on supplement advertisement sales. He cancelled the contract and this year signed a bill similar to the one he vetoed.

And the man who once said he didn't need special interest money now says this:

"I only accept money based on if someone is interested in my vision for the future," he says. "Those are the people that we accept the money for. If I find out that anyone wants to have a favor in return for money that they give me, I give the money back immediately."

Out of the nearly $70 million he's raised since first running for governor, CBS News found about $400,000 worth of donations he's returned.

One $50,000 check came from an insurance company. But when the governor and his California Recovery Team returned that check, the insurance company turned around and donated $75,000 to a political action committee which supported Schwarzenegger. A few months later, that committee gave nearly $169,000 to the California Recovery Team.

And while Schwarzenegger may have returned more donations, his campaign didn't return phone calls from CBS News asking for exact numbers.

  • Gina Pace

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