Thanks For the Gift, Let Me Reimburse You

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It must be an interesting conversation for those who give gifts to Governor Schwarzenegger that are worth more than he can legally accept: let me write you a check.

Today's release of the governor's economic disclosure forms is an annual rite of passage for Capitol reporters. Schwarzenegger, as well as legislators and other constitutional officers, are required by law every year to disclose both their sources of income and gifts they receive on what's known in Sacramento circles as the Form 700 filing.

The governor's financial holdings, not surprisingly, are vast. While the state forms don't give specific amounts, the holdings of real estate, stocks, and residuals from his celebrity career easily make Schwarzenegger a multimillionaire -- though, like others, some of his investments took a hit in 2008 thanks to the economy.

But the more curious part of the document is always the list of gifts given to the chief executive. While the most popular gifts seem to be cigars (from the likes of Mexican President Felipe Calderon and motivational speaker Tony Robbins) and wine (including a gift from possible guv wannabe and SF Mayor Gavin Newsom), there are some unique gifts, too.

There's the $355 clock from the Aga Khan IV, Prince Karim. Less royal but no less unique: the "authentic Mongolian shield" Schwarzenegger received in June from Chris Robins of the marketing company that worked on last year's flick, Mongol.

But back to the early reference to those gifts that are just a tad too pricey. Schwarzenegger, assuming he wants to keep the gift, must then reimburse the gift-giver for the difference between the value and the $390 gift limit set by law.

Last February, the governor received a $1600 watch from Eyal Lalo, the CEO of Invicta Watches. He then reimbursed Lalo $1210. No word from the guv's office so far on exactly which watch Schwarzenegger kept, though a quick browse of the Invita site shows only a few in that price range... and most all of those embedded with diamonds.

Also noteworthy in the reimbursement category: a bronze bust of a California condor given to the governor last August by artist David Spellerberg. Estimated value: $1200. Amount the governor gave back to Spellerberg: $810.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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