Stem Cell Oversight Legislation Criticized
Robert Klein, chair of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, on June 5 sent letters to patient advocates across the state alleging that Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) was on an "anti-research crusade," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. ICOC oversees the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
Ortiz, who lost the nomination for secretary of state to Sen. Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) in Tuesday's primary election, has proposed legislation (SB 401) that would make changes to Proposition 71 and increase CIRM's public accountability. Proposition 71 was approved by voters in 2004 to fund stem cell research.
In the letter, Klein said the bill would place "crippling restrictions" on stem cell research. Klein said he did not send the letter to campaign against Ortiz but to express his views on the legislation as chair of Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures, which is registered as a campaign fundraising organization. The letter did not express the views of CIRM or other patient advocacy groups of which he is a member, Klein said.
Some public advocates and at least one CIRM board member questioned whether it was appropriate for Klein to send the letter.
CIRM board member Jeff Sheehy and public advocacy groups said they believed Klein had withdrawn from all stem cell advocacy positions outside of ICOC.
Klein said he told the press in February 2005 that he would stay with the not-for-profit educational organization, which used to be known as Californians for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures, to help it raise $1 million to continue campaign efforts to fund Proposition 71. Klein said he only agreed to step down from his position at the Alliance for Stem Cell Research.
Ortiz declined to comment on the letter (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/8).