Opponents of Measure To Fund Stem Cell Research Ask Supporters to Disclose Financial Holdings
Opponents of a bond measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot to fund stem cell research on Tuesday requested that the "Yes on Proposition 71" campaign release donors' financial holdings after FoxNews.com reported that Stanford University professor Irving Weissman, who was featured in the campaign's television ads, could profit from the measure, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Proposition 71 would fund stem cell research by issuing state bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote research and provide funds for a new stem cell research center at a University of California campus, as well as grants and loans for laboratory projects at other colleges. State analysts say the measure would cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 10/19).
FoxNews.com reported that Weissman could become a "very wealthy man" if the value of stock options he holds in the biotech firm StemCells rises from its current value of $2 per share to $5.25 per share.
Weissman declined to comment on the news report, according to the Bee.
Tim Rosales, spokesperson for the "No on Proposition 71" campaign, said the report raised questions about potential profits for supporters of the measure, according to the Bee.
Fiona Hutton, a spokesperson for the campaign in favor of Proposition 71, said Weissman appears in the ad because he is the chair of the National Academy of Sciences panel on stem cell research and is a respected expert in the field, the Bee reports. She added that she has no knowledge of his financial holdings.
Roger Salazar, another spokesperson for the measure's supporters, said it would be difficult to compile financial disclosures from all contributors, adding that the initiative includes provisions to ensure that those awarding grants and loans funded through the measure would have no financial interest, according to the Bee. He said, "The opponents are trying to do everything they can to get away from the real message of this initiative that offers hope for cures for real Californians," adding, "We are not interested in playing their games."
Proposition 71 has created "this election year's oddest political bedfellows," uniting unlikely groups in support and opposition of the stem cell research funding measure, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Krieger, San Jose Mercury News, 10/20).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) "broke" with some Republican supporters when he announced his support for the measure on Monday, the AP/Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. He joined billionaire banking couple Marion and Herbert Sandler, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pamela, Microsoft chair Bill Gates and other "big contributors to Democratic candidates and causes," who support Proposition 71, according to the Press-Telegram (Elias, AP/Long Beach Press-Telegram, 10/18).
Members of the opposition group include California Nurses Association President Deborah Burger; Rich Hayes, director of the Center for Genetics and Society; Judy Norsigian, author of "Our Bodies, Ourselves"; the Roman Catholic Church; and the California Pro-Life Council, according to the Mercury News (San Jose Mercury News, 10/20).
Several broadcast programs reported on Schwarzenegger's support for Proposition 71:
- KCRW's "Which Way, L.A.?": The segment includes comments from Barbara O'Connor, professor of political communication at California State University-Sacramento, and Shawn Steel, former chair of the California Republican Party and director of California's Club for Growth (Olney, "Which Way, L.A.?," KCRW, 10/19). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "Air Talk": The segment includes comments from Dan Weintraub, columnist for the Sacramento Bee (Mantle, "Air Talk," KPCC, 10/19). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The segment includes comments from Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, senior scholar at the University of Southern California's School of Policy, Planning and Development (Inskeep, "Morning Edition," NPR, 10/19). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.