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SCHWARZENEGGER AIDES ACCUSED OF PLOY ON GIFTS

Top aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have skirted state regulations limiting gifts from special interest groups by channeling them to members of their families, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

California law allows officials to accept up to $340 in gifts in a year from any one special interest, but state officials have sidestepped the cap in several instances, according to a Times review of lobbying reports.

On one night alone, five of Schwarzenegger's senior aides and their families each accepted more than $340 in tickets to a Sacramento Kings basketball game, sitting in luxury boxes supplied by phone company SBC and oil giant BP, the newspaper said. Last May, SBC treated Rob Stutzman, the governor's communications director, his wife and son to tickets worth $767.

Under state law, gifts handed out directly to relatives rather than to the state official aren't counted toward the $340 limit, the Times said.

Schwarzenegger has railed against special interests since before becoming governor.

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