“‘There have been rumors swirling around for years, citing a number of incidents regarding Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelity,’ California-based publicist Angie Meyer, who works closely with the California GOP, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts. ‘This comes as a complete surprise to no one – especially those closest to the ex-Governor’s innermost circles.’

“A Republican political insider on Capitol Hill concurred.

“‘So far, not much surprise here,’ said our source.”

“Eight years ago I was dragged scowling and complaining into an investigation of allegations that Arnold Schwarzenegger – the leading candidate for governor of California – had sexually harassed and molested women, including those who worked on his movies…

“Their experiences with Schwarzenegger were double humiliations. First they suffered through the acts themselves: demeaning–often public–groping, unwanted, invasive kisses, crude, belittling comments.

“Far worse, they felt forced by circumstance to let Schwarzenegger behave badly—like an over-indulged toddler, as one woman put it. A complaint against the bigger-than-life moneymaker could tank their careers. Not a single woman felt anyone would have taken their side or chastised the star…

“I went to the door of a woman in Orange County who supposedly had conceived a child with Schwarzenegger. She became teary-eyed the moment I identified myself as a reporter, repeatedly and emphatically denying that Schwarzenegger had fathered her son. Soon after, a British tabloid published her name and said she had a ‘love child’ with the actor. We were never able to confirm this.”

“Associates of Mr. Schwarzenegger and Ms. Shriver, pointing to the request for privacy, offered only scant details. The child was said to be a boy, about 14 years old. Several friends said the mother was working around the house, pregnant, at the same time that Ms. Shriver was pregnant with the youngest of the couple’s four children, Christopher, who is 13. The woman and the child did not live in the house.

“By every account, Mr. Schwarzenegger made no mention of the situation to Ms. Shriver or to the team of political consultants he brought in during the 2003 recall election against Mr. Davis, and in the re-election campaign in 2006.

“Friends of both Mr. Schwarzenegger and Ms. Shriver expressed astonishment not only at his actions, but also that he had eluded detection by the public and his family over the course of his very public life. Mr. Schwarzenegger told his wife about the affair only late last year, at the end of his public service career, and shortly after the mother of his son left the job with severance after working for the family for 20 years.”

“Mindel said he suspects that a DNA test was performed to establish paternity (the staffer was married to another man when the child was born), and then Schwarzenegger made child-support arrangements.

“‘I can’t even fathom that he has a checkbook and writes checks for, say, the gardener,’ Mindel said. Average child support from a ‘high net-worth individual’ like the former movie star would be $15,000 to $30,000 a month, which means it’s highly likely that a business manager or accountant would be aware of the child, even if his wife Maria Shriver was not.

“But those expenses don’t show up in public filings; politicians are only required to disclose money coming in, not money they spend. ‘The personal disclosure statement details the official’s economic interests — where they’ve received money or where they have money invested,’ said Roman Porter, executive director of Fair Political Practices Commission.”

“While this story doesn’t raise the same sort of legal issues as the charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the International Monetary Fund head accused of rape, it does raise questions about the intersection of private life and public office. As the Times notes in passing, Maria Shriver was a particularly visible and active First Lady of California and her dismissal of sexual harassment charges by more than a dozen women against her husband played a pivotal role in keeping his candidacy on track. Would she have done so had she known about his love child? Would she have still been married to him, thus helping him politically?

“I think anyone’s heart goes out especially to the kids involved (adults, all things being equal, can deal with things). But this story raises questions about politicians’ personal lives–especially when they use their family members as stage props in their campaigns.”

“With the announcement last week that he was separating from Shriver, and Tuesday’s revelation of the out-of-wedlock birth, Schwarzenegger truly came full circle.

“Times columnist James Rainey, recalling the paper’s coverage of Schwarzenegger’s behavior toward women, said the candidate’s 2003 sales pitch turned out to be too good to be true.

“‘A state facing outsize problems, looked to an outsize character to fix them. … The truth was, the story and its central figure may have presented a glossy and attractive narrative. But the final cut fit right into a drearily familiar mold,’ he wrote.

“In the sad coda to his political career, Schwarzenegger validated all those who had criticized him along the way as a vulgarian and a political naif— a Hollywood production with little below the surface.”

“His megawatt-smile denials were pure pap, and if knowledge of his affair had been public it’s almost a dead certainty that the recall would have failed and Gray Davis would have remained governor. The car tax would have stayed in place, no bonds would have been issued to make up for it, and California’s deficit problems would have been less than half as bad as they turned out to be under Schwarzenegger.

“That’s what comes of running a politically motivated snap election with weird rules in six weeks: you don’t really know what you’re getting. In the end, the Times was right about Schwarzenegger, and his folksy boys-will-be-boys denials were lies. We’ve paid a pretty high price for that.”