Santa Monica, CA -- A plan to provide millions of dollars to keep the Proposition 71 stem cell institute operating must be done through a completely public and transparent process to ensure that there is no improper influence by those putting up the money, The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today.
Robert Klein, chairman of the stem cell oversight committee has been negotiating to raise $50 million by selling so-called bond anticipation notes because the sale of $3 billion in bonds authorized by Proposition 71 has been blocked by a lawsuit. At 2 p.m. today the stem cell finance committee meets in Sacramento to consider authorizing as much as $200 million of the notes.
"So far the process has been very secretive, " said John M. Simpson, FTCR's Stem Cell Project director. "We don't know with whom the institute has bee negotiating or what the terms and conditions might be. Obviously there is a question of what's expected in return for buying the notes, particularly if they are sold at below-market interest rates. These transactions must be completely public."
Attempting to keep a public agency afloat by negotiating privately with financiers is troublesome and rife with potential for abuse, according to FTCR. "You can only wonder what strings are tied to the money," Simpson said. "When $6 billion in public money is on the line, you can't operate with the motto, 'Trust me, I know what's best for the stem cell institute.' "
It is also imperative that policies governing control of any Prop. 71 financed discoveries are in place before any research grants are actually awarded, FTCR said.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is California's leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Our stem cell information page is at located at: http://www.stemcellwatch.org