Undeserved Appointment is Symptom of Pay-to-Play Politics that Prop 89 Ends
Santa Monica, CA — Consumer advocates today asked Attorney General Bill Lockyer to rule that Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez’s nominee to a key stem cell committee does not meet the legal requirements for the position spelled out in Proposition 71.
The appointment of John Hein, former lobbyist for the California Teacher’s Association, smacks of cronyism and the pay-to-play culture that dominates California politics, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). Such abuses could be stopped by enacting Proposition 89, FTCR said.
“I urge you to prevent this high-handed abuse by the Speaker immediately,” wrote John M. Simpson, FTCR’s Stem Cell Project Director, in a letter to Lockyer. Read the letter at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/lockyerlet.pdf.
Núñez appointed Hein to the Citizens’ Financial Accountability and Oversight Committee. According to Proposition 71 that created the stem cell institute, members of the committee “shall have medical backgrounds and knowledge of relevant financial matters.” Hein has acknowledged that he has no medical background.
“I am appalled that the Speaker would so blatantly flout the law as it was enacted by the people of California through the initiative process,” said Simpson.
At the committee’s inaugural meeting Thursday, State Controller Steve Westly said he would seek an opinion from the Attorney General as to whether Hein could serve. He was sworn in and participated at that session.
“When you are appointed to an important position without the qualifications, it’s a political payoff. It’s clear Hein got this position because of the California Teachers Association’s political clout,” said John M. Simpson, FTCR’s Stem Cell Project Director.
The California Teachers Association is one of the state’s most powerful unions and one of Núñez’s biggest boosters. The union gave $526,200 to Núñez since 2003.
Proposition 71, approved overwhelmingly by the voters in 2004, created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to oversee funding $3 billion in stem cell research. Including bond financing, $6 billion of public money is at stake. The first research grants are expected to be made early next year.
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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 www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Our stem cell information page is located at: http://www.StemCellWatch.org.