state’s Little Hoover Commission, an advisory body to the governor and
Legislature, said yesterday that it will examine the structure and
governance of the state stem cell institute.
The inquiry was
requested this year in legislation introduced by Sens. Sheila Kuehl,
D-Santa Monica, and George Runner, R-Antelope Valley. Also requesting
the examination was Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit organization in
“When $6 billion in taxpayer money is at stake, the
most efficient, responsive and transparent procedures are necessary.
The commission will help ensure that happens," said John Simpson, of
The California Institute for Regenerative
Medicine was created in 2004 when voters passed Proposition 71,
authorizing $3 billion in taxpayer funds to support stem cell research.
Repayment of the bonds used to fund the research is expected to cost
taxpayers a total of $6 billion.
Proposition 71 requires leaders
of state academic institutions and biotechnology companies to sit on
its governing board. Since the research institutes and biotechs may be
eligible for funding, the potential for conflict of interest is
inherent, Kuehl has said.
The bipartisan Hoover commission is
expected to begin its examination with a public hearing in November,
said Stuart Drown, its executive director.
It will be the fourth
time that the stem cell institute has been examined. It was challenged
in court, and won. And it has passed examinations by the legislative
finance committee and the state controller’s office.
Klein, the institute’s chairman, said he was disappointed its small
staff will again be distracted from overseeing the distribution of
“It’s very important that the commission
recognize the exhaustive reviews we’ve already been through and come
out of with totally and consistently extraordinarily high marks,” Klein