Ortiz, Stem Cell Board Member Disagree Over Legislation
Jeff Sheehy, a member of the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee and San Francisco AIDS advocate, said he felt "intimidated" and that his position on the committee is "at risk" after he testified against a bill (SB 401) by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), the Sacramento Bee reports.
The bill would place an initiative on the November ballot to require more public meetings of stem cell working groups and require a portion of royalties from discoveries made using state funds to be returned to the state. Ortiz said the legislation would ensure that the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine operates with integrity.
However, Sheehy criticized the bill, saying provisions that require royalties from state-funded research could jeopardize the program.
Sheehy said prior to testifying against the bill, David Panush, the health consultant of Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland), told him that testifying against the bill violated Senate protocol because Sheehy is the Senate appointee to the committee. In addition, Sheehy said Ortiz sought to have him removed from ICOC after he testified against the bill.
Ortiz denied the claim, saying the Senate has no authority to remove ICOC members. Ortiz also said that she never asked Panush to speak to Sheehy but that she did ask the Senate appointments secretary to speak to Sheehy about "inappropriate" behavior after the committee voted to approve the bill.
Sheehy claims Ortiz is pushing the ballot measure to raise unlimited campaign contributions for the initiative, which she hopes will help her win her bid for secretary of state. Ortiz denied that claim (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 4/20).