Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has paid $30,000 in fines for inappropriately spending $1.1 million in campaign funds on a media blitz during his 2009 budget battle with Democrats.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission, the state's ethics watchdog, determined that Schwarzenegger could not use money designated for ballot measures on media spots unrelated to an election.
The FPPC staff previously negotiated the $30,000 settlement for six violations, and the commission announced Monday that it will consider final approval on March 15. It has not cashed the $30,000 check. Schwarzenegger's "California Dream Team" committee reported having paid the fines last year in a recent campaign filing.
"By the plain language of the advertisement, 'Stand for California' did not support or oppose any state or local measure or potential measure anticipated by (Schwarzenegger and his campaign committee)," the FPPC wrote in its determination.
Schwarzenegger and a campaign official signed a document agreeing that they had violated the state's Political Reform Act, according to FPPC enforcement chief Gary S. Winuk.
Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn said in an email Monday, "We made the decision to settle the matter rather than continue fighting and accrue tens of thousands in legal expenses. It was a financial decision. Future governors will probably challenge this at some point."
California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton filed the complaint when the ads aired in July 2009. Burton, a former state Senate leader, developed an inconsistent friendship with Schwarzenegger when they served in the Capitol together.
In 2009, Schwarzenegger and legislative Democrats feuded over how to bridge a $26 billion deficit. The governor was demanding permanent cuts in health and welfare programs, which Democrats opposed. He took to the airwaves to appeal to voters as a centrist who would not raise taxes and wanted to curb "waste, fraud and abuse in our government."
The California Teachers Association, allied with legislative Democrats, simulataneously spent $1 million attacking Schwarzenegger for proposing to cut funds for K-12 schools and community colleges.