Billionaire Donald Trump gave $10,000 to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to help pay off his campaign debts, a little more than a month after the governor guest-starred on Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice: Los Angeles,” according to a campaign filing.
In an episode that aired March 18, Schwarzenegger hosted five of the show’s contestants in his private conference room at the state Capitol.
The governor denies any link between the donation and the television appearance, but some political watchdog groups are skeptical.
“He’s clearly using his personal friendships and his celebrity to pay off his campaign debt, and that’s just wrong,” said Jamie Court, president of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a group that tracks campaign donations.
Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said the April 20 donation was not connected to the governor’s appearance on the NBC prime-time show. The taping took place earlier in the year, but she was unsure of the date.
Trump could not be reached for comment Saturday at his company’s headquarters in New York.
The donation was Trump’s first to Schwarzenegger, whom he described as great friend when he told a group of contenders that they would meet California’s governor as a reward for winning a competition. The show features Trump and contestants vying to work for him.