Santa Monica, CA — Consumer advocates have asked California Attorney General Bill Lockyer for an official opinion as to whether a quo warranto action can be brought on behalf of the People of California to remove John Hein from the stem cell institute’s financial oversight committee because he does not have the medical background required by law.
The letter from the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) seeking the formal legal opinion was released today. Read the letter at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Lockyerlet2.pdf.
California law says an action in quo warranto may be brought by the Attorney General in the name of the People of California, “upon his own information, or upon the complaint of a private party, against any person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises any public office’ within this state.”
If the Attorney General rules the action can be brought, he could file the suit or FTCR could seek his permission to file it on behalf of the People of California.
The California Stem Cell and Cures Act, Article 1, section 125290.30 (c) provides: “Committee members shall have medical backgrounds and financial knowledge of relevant financial matters.”
“Hein, a former lobbyist for the California Teachers Association, has acknowledged he has no medical background. He said he told that to Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez,” said John M. Simpson, FTCR’s Stem Cell Project Director. “Speaker Núñez flagrantly flouted the law when he appointed him and Hein is serving illegally now.”
Núñez’s appointment of Hein to the Citizens’ Financial Accountability Oversight Committee smacks of cronyism and the pay-to-play culture that dominates California politics, said FTCR. Enacting Proposition 89 could stop such abuses, FTCR said.
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 89, the November ballot initiative which gets special interest money out of California politics, would end such abuses, FTCR said. Last week Núñez announced he opposes Proposition 89.
Proposition 71, approved overwhelmingly by the voters in 2004, enacted The California Stem Cell and Cures Act. It 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: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.