Criticism Mounts Over Stem Cell Agency’s Ethics, Rules
On Tuesday, State Controller John Chiang ordered his office to audit the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to ensure its process of awarding grants meets adequate transparency and oversight standards. Chiang said he did not suspect any problems at the institute.
Voters approved the creation of the stem cell agency under Proposition 71, a 2004 ballot measure that authorized the sale of $3 billion in state bonds over 10 years for stem cell research.
In related news, Chiang has directed the Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate whether a CIRM board member violated the agency's conflict-of-interest policy (California Healthline, 11/28).
Summaries of an editorial and opinion pieces regarding the audit and conflict-of-interest probe appear below.
- Sacramento Bee: Part of the blame for the stem cell agency's questionable "expenditures and backdoor lobbying ... falls to the state's lawmakers and constitutional officers, who have failed to conduct proper oversight of" CIRM, a Bee editorial states. "Although Chiang may face political pressure to limit the scope of his audit, he shouldn't shirk from his duty to taxpayers," the editorial states (Sacramento Bee, 11/29).
- Jesse Reynolds, San Francisco Chronicle: Proposition 71, the 2004 ballot measure that created the stem cell agency, "is riddled with exceptions to the norms of public oversight, accountability and transparency," Reynolds, director of the project on Biotechnology in the Public Interest at the Center for Genetics and Society, writes in a Chronicle opinion piece. "The good news is that there is room, albeit limited, for involvement by our elected officials," Reynolds writes (Reynolds, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/29).