After less than two months on the job, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s
campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, has been paid more than $78,000 in campaign
funds. Schmidt received paychecks of $26,250 on February 17, March 3 and
March 15, which puts Schmidt on pace to earn more than $470,000 during this
year’s governor race. The figures come from public documents released this
week by the secretary of state.
It’s unclear exactly what Schmidt’s salary is and whether the $26,250
payments will continue throughout the campaign. Top campaign managers and
political consultants typically are handsomely rewarded for their services.
But none appear to be quite as well compensated as Schmidt.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Treasurer Phil Angelides’
campaign manager, Cathy Calfo, has received more than $215,000 in payments
since she joined the Angelides campaign. But those payments date back to
Angelides primary opponent, state Controller Steve Westly, has paid campaign
manager Jude Barry $60,000, with another $10,000 going to Catapult
Strategies, Barry’s consulting firm. Barry has been with the Westly campaign
since April 2005.
Garry South, a top adviser to Westly, has been paid $130,000 by the Westly
campaign since July 2005, with an additional $2,300 for travel, housing and
Both Democratic campaigns were quick to criticize Schmidt’s high salary.
“Schmidt knows Schwarzenegger is damaged goods, so I guess he feels
justified in taking him to the cleaners,” said Angelides spokesman Brian
“It is an awful lot of money for someone who has never won a campaign in
California,” added South. “I don’t begrudge him making the money but what
kind of track record is that based upon. I guess he must be a real fast
The early payments to Schmidt can’t necessarily be extrapolated to an annual
salary. A source close to the campaign said there was “a signing-bonus
component” to the salary figures. Signing bonuses are not unprecedented in
political campaigns, but numerous Democratic and Republican political
operatives said the practice of campaigns giving signing bonuses is uncommon
“I’ve run five campaigns for U.S. Senate and governor,” said Democratic
political consultant Darry Sragow. “I have never gotten a signing bonus and
I have never given any other consultant a signing bonus.”
Sragow said the more common practice is a smaller salary and a bonus for
winning in November.
“If, in fact, this is what Schmidt is being paid for the year, every
consultant in California, irrespective of party affiliation, ought to form a
line at the door to the Schwarzenegger campaign and see if we can get in on
the deal,” Sragow added.
Governor Schwarzenegger has a history of paying his political confidants
well. Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that Schwarzenegger has
spent more than $14 million on campaign consultants since 2003, including
paying former Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines stunt-double Dieter Rauter
$62,000 to use a hand-held digital camera to document Schwarzenegger’s
Schmidt previously has served as the communications director for Republican
Matt Fong’s U.S. Senate campaign against incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer in
More recently, Schmidt worked in Washington, D.C., at the White House. In
2004, he worked with senior adviser Karl Rove as a top consultant for
President Bush’s re-election campaign. He also has served as spokesman for
vice president Dick Cheney and helped shepherd the nominations of Supreme
Court Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts through the U.S.