When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced last year that he had signed a deal to serve as executive editor for two fitness magazines, he described the salary as "petty compared to the movies."

In fact, he was in line to receive at least $5 million over five years, according to records filed this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although the amount may pale next to the reported $30 million he earned for his last film role, it prompted California legislators and government watchdogs to raise concerns Thursday about conflicts of interest and distractions from the governor's day job.

Much of the advertising revenue for the magazines, Muscle & Fitness and Flex, comes from makers of dietary supplements, a controversial industry. Last year, Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed a bill that would have discouraged high school athletes from taking performance-enhancing supplements, saying that most such products are safe.

The bill's sponsor held a news conference at the state Capitol in Sacramento, calling on the governor to give up his ties to the magazines.

"It's time for him to step up and show some leadership," state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) said, according to the Associated Press. "The governor of the state of California makes some important decisions every day. Today he has to make a decision about a conflict of interest -- his own."

Schwarzenegger, who when elected refused to accept a salary from the state, was attending a conference of border-state governors in Mexico on Thursday. His spokesman, Rob Stutzman, described the contract amount as "not a giant amount in the world of Schwarzenegger" and said the contract did not pose a conflict.

"The governor has a very long-held and very public position when it comes to supplements -- he uses supplements, he thinks it helps people with a healthy lifestyle, he is against the regulation of supplements," Stutzman said. "When people are elected to office, they use their long-held beliefs to apply to governance."

The deal appeared to hand new fodder to the governor's increasingly vocal critics within California. The state is still grappling with the fiscal problems that led to Schwarzenegger's defeat of Gray Davis two years ago, and Schwarzenegger's approval ratings have plunged, with many voters souring on his continuing battles with the legislature. Last month, Schwarzenegger called a special election for November to seek citizen approval of what he calls several "reform" measures that state lawmakers have resisted.

Schwarzenegger's dealings with American Media Inc., the Florida-based publisher of Muscle & Fitness and Flex, had earlier raised eyebrows. Most questions concerned whether his connections to the company -- which bought the magazines in early 2003 from Joe Weider, his longtime friend and mentor -- were the reason its celebrity- and scandal-oriented tabloids, such as the National Enquirer and the Star, steered clear of news reports about sexual harassment allegations concerning the then-movie star.

According to American Media's filings with the SEC, Schwarzenegger's Oak Productions firm was to receive 1 percent of annual advertising revenue, although no less than $1 million a year. The estimates included in the agreement say Schwarzenegger could receive as much as $8.15 million through 2009.

Schwarzenegger writes a monthly column for Muscle & Fitness and suggests ideas to both staffs. Stutzman described the amount of time the governor spends on the endeavor as "what someone might spend on a hobby."

Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, said the deal is not illegal "but clearly it's unethical."

"A governor should be a 24-7 governor," he added. "I'd much rather have him receive $175,000 [salary] in taxpayer money than receiving $1 million from a special interest that can be affected by the governor's decisions or vetoes."