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John Phillips: Hey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, did you cheat on the people of California too?


Everyone in the world knows that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cheated on his wife and fathered a child out of wedlock with his maid –- what we don't know is if he also betrayed the people of California.  

The media frenzy surrounding the affair, first reported in the Los Angeles Times, was so overwhelming that even the hosts of CNN's Headline News broke away from their endless milk-carton-like coverage of the missing person of the week to broadcast all the latest trashy details.

Yet despite the undying coverage, we still don't have an answer to the most relevant question to the people of California:

Was any of this damaging information ever used against Arnold when he was governor in exchange for special favors?  More specifically, was any of this information used to persuade him into granting the commutation of Esteban Nunez?

It's a fair question to ask, and the people of California deserve an answer. 

Let's review the facts:

The affair information was damaging to Arnold -– politically, professionally and personally. 

By all accounts, Arnold allegedly began engaging in sexual relations with his maid prior to running for governor in the 2003 recall election of Gray Davis. Until leaving office, the California press corps was in the dark, Mrs. Terminator was clueless, and even the maid's husband says...

...he didn't know there was any hanky-panky going on.

image from

The only two people who knew for sure were Arnold and the maid. But people talk, people see things, and if the Governator was supporting his secret love child financially, there was a paper trail that could be traced back to Brentwood. This was a juicy scandal, with all evidence pointing to one person. For the record, carbon-dating officially ruled Strom Thurmond out as the father.

If word were to leak out, it's safe to assume Arnold's marriage could've busted up, his political career would have been over and he'd have to fork over even more money to his secret girlfriend and love child. 

Even worse, if the information were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be used as a Sword of Damocles –- hanging over the governor's head, ready to fall at a moment's notice. 

This is the nightmare scenario.

If any politician were to know about Arnold's secret, former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez would be the likeliest candidate.

When a guy or gal decides to run for high office, it's common practice for their political opponents to spend gobs of cash on 'opposition research' –- which is a polite way of saying digging through a candidate's trash looking for dirt.  If you catch the competition in bed with a live boy or dead girl, or even behind the wheel of a non-hybrid SUV -– go ahead and start measuring the drapes because you're moving to Sacramento.

If you're looking for dirt on Arnold, you know exactly what trees to go barking up ... the ones in skirts.

Just before the 2003 special election, 16 different women came forward alleging that the former body builder sexually harassed and humiliated them over a 30-year period. In fact, the only person we can definitively say Arnold didn't grope during those three decades is Danny DeVito

Everybody in the state knew that Arnold liked the ladies and their parts.

If the California Democratic Party spent thousands of dollars looking for skeletons in the closet of the former action star and didn't find out about his ongoing affair with his maid or secret love child, they need to take their researchers on "Judge Judy" and get their money back.

But if they did stumble on Arnold's secret, Democratic Party power brokers would have the keys to the kingdom...and in case you're wondering, throughout most of Arnold's tenure, the highest-ranking Democrat in the Golden State was liberal Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. 

Fabian's Problem

Born in San Diego to Mexican parents, Fabian Nunez grew up in very humble conditions just over the border from Tijuana, Mexico. Using his street smarts and shrewd ability to cut a deal, the former labor leader was able to elevate himself, through the same Southern California Latino political machine that produced L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, all the way to the highest levels of California politics.

Many observers thought Nunez would be the next mayor of L.A. or U.S. senator from California...until everything came crashing down.

In October 2008, Fabian's son Esteban and some of his Sacramento buddies were involved in a drunken street brawl that resulted in the stabbing death of San Diego college student Luis Santos

The younger Nunez was sure that his politically-connected and powerful father would be able to make his legal problems go away.

In documents obtained by LA Weekly, Esteban Nunez was quoted as assuring his pals that “he [Nunez] would take the rap for it,” and that “his dad [Fabian Nunez] would take care of it and get them off on self-defense.”

Only one problem...Fabian Nunez was termed out of office on November 30, 2008. Somebody else would have to “take care of it.” 

Luckily for Esteban, Fabian had some favors to cash in.

After receiving written pleas of leniency from the likes of Mayor Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor leader Maria Elena Durazo, and Assemblymen Dario Frommer and Keven De Leon, the judge agreed to lower the bail for Nunez from $2 million to $1 million.

Eventually, the 21-year-old Nunez pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon, and was sentenced to 16 years behind bars. 

But, if you're thinking the conviction and sentencing would slow down Fabian's quest for the VIP lifestyle, you're wrong.

When translated to English apparently “Fabian Nunez” means “Monty Hall.”

On January 10, 2011, the L.A. Times reported that Fabian Nunez was caught giving a Kindle to an official at Mule Creek State Prison -– the facility where Esteban is serving his sentence. The official, who is also the point of contact with prisoner's families, was forced to return the gift to Nunez. 

And then, there's what's behind door #3....

Arnold's Decision

Inexplicably, on his last day in office, Gov. Schwarzenegger commuted Esteban Nunez's sentence from 16 to seven years in prison.

Without consulting the San Diego district attorney's office, the Santos family or anyone else, Arnold decided that Nunez deserved a get-out-of-jail-free card. 

On its face, Arnold's decision makes no sense.

There is no question about Nunez's guilt -– he pleaded guilty, knowing the range of sentencing he would likely receive.

Arnold didn't change ideologically on criminal justice issues -– nobody else convicted of a similar crime received a commutation of their sentence. 

And for the record, if an ostensibly tough-on-crime governor suddenly has an epiphany and thinks that manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon are no big deal, that's a transformation that would make Chaz Bono blush. 

When asked for an explanation of the commutation by Newsweek magazine, Arnold arrogantly blurted, “Well hellooooo. I mean, of course you help a friend.”

So we're supposed to believe that Arnold is so loyal to a political crony that he's willing to risk his reputation, legacy and future prospects to do one a favor? I think we know how loyal he is...just ask Maria.

Uhhh, sorry Arnold, I get the papers.

At this point, we know that Fabian Nunez is willing to use the carrot to get his son out of trouble, what we don't know is if he's willing to use the stick too.

Arnold knows the answer. 

Now the Santos family and the people of California deserve to know.

Arnold, the camera is pointed at you and the red light is on....what's the answer?

-- John Phillips

Previous John Phillips' Ticket items

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For Republicans in 2012, it's Sarah Palin or another big fat L

At CPAC with Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin

Lessons from a political visit to Washington

PhillipsJohnStrangely enough, a man named John Phillips hosts “The John Phillips Show” on Talk Radio 790 KABC in Los Angeles, which can be heard weeknights from 6 to 10 p.m. Pacific.  Outside Southern California, his show is available live online at  Also follow Phillips on Twitter  @JohnnyDontLike

Click here to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Top photo: Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) make an appearance in 2008. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times

Second photo: Maria Shriver and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Century Plaza Hotel in L.A. after his 2003 election. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (5)

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**can't believe**

"When a guy or gal decides to run for high office, it's common practice for their political opponents to spend gobs of cash on 'opposition research'"

The California Democratic Party does not need to spend a ton of money on opposition research, because they already have the entire staff of the LA Times and SF Chronicle working overtime for them.

"In fact, the only person we can definitively say Arnold didn't grope during those three decades is Danny DeVito."

You mean to tell me the world's most famous bodybuilder and one of the most iconic global actors in the history of entertainment actually groped a few ladies during his tenure? SHOCKING!!!! Welcome to the real world. If you really want a story about groping, why don't you re-read the Teddy Kennedy Chronicles publish by GQ in February 1990. In the words of a relative who works in media inside the beltway: "If you want inside information from the Democratic Party, just send in a 20-something for sexual favors, and Teddy will start singing." He had a thing for really young women and limos. They were not called "quickies" but "car-rides".

Not to mention the fact that Maria's granddaddy, Joe, used to have Hollywood starlets over for dinner with his family, and then take them upstairs to bang them. (While the kids and his wife were doing the dishes)

Arnold's behavior was rated G compared to the Kennedy legacy. FACT.

2 names:

Martha Moxley
Mary Jo Kopechne

Raped and murdered women at the hands of Kennedy men!!!!

You really have done very little homework on this issue, instead choosing to write a cheap what if column which implies when anything wrong is done by a politico his actions with other politicos should be scrutinized. Wow! your brilliant. You spend, what 700 words in this column informing us about petty stuff and advancing your theory that has little substance or real importance.

I am not a fan, apologist, sympathizer or supporter of the Governor and his inner circle. Why didn't you write about how poorly he was being advised by his inner circle that seemed to control the policies of his administration more than him?There is a much stronger connection and broader connection between the Governor and others who you simply ignore in your piece. But then if you had done your homework you might have stumbled upon it.

The governor

Arnold is a nut case, and anyone who wants more of this bull just keep reading.

Just the other day I was watching CNN news, one of the guest report made a big mistake. He said Arnold, has a third child out there in the world.

The people of Ca. was sold a big pack of lies on this fool.Let him go back down to Hollywood and make more moive for fools.

Let this man rest in peice.

I disagree. There is three things have to make it straight. The maid is not Arnold 's girlfriend. They had a moment once more than 13 yrs ago and that is it. But unfortunately it left a trace because the maid was pregnant. Should not judge people job performance based on their personal life. Franklin Roosevelt was one of the greatest president but he had a mistress (nickname Daisy) who was his personal assistant in his entire presidency and no one knew until after his death, it was discovered via his letter to his mistress. The woman did not have any child so he was lucky. John F Kennedy cheated his wife with different women including Marilyn Monroe and he was also a great president. therefore you cannot judge people based on all the sins and mistakes they did in their personal life. In this case, Arnold was a good father and husband except for his mistake with the maid. Clinton was worse but Hillary was a great wife. She forgave him and save the marriage eventhough she only has 1 child. Maria has 4 children with Arnold, she should make an effort to save her marriage, otherwise she would ruin the life of her 4 children. Arnold loves her and was begging him for forgiveness. Maria is a strong woman who inherit the Kennedy s gene, she should act as a "Kennedy" . If Hillary can do it, so can Maria. Children is the priority in parents' life. About Arnold s support for his out of wedlock 's son is A MUST! I have to give LOTS OF CREDIT for Arnold. No matter what, a man should take RESPONSIBILITY for bringing up his child into this world. It's immoral if the media and anyone criticize it. your criticism is an act of a jerk. Let's hope Maria forgive Arnold and unite the whole family, Let's pray Maria to have great Wisdom, courage and generosity. It's best of HER and HER CHILDREN.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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