Santa Monica, CA — Members of a new committee formed to oversee the finances of the stem cell institute must follow California’s financial disclosure and conflict of interest rules, consumer advocates said today.
However, the first substantive item of business on the new committee’s agenda for its first meeting is to consider seeking an exemption from those rules. The Citizens Financial Accountability Oversight Committee (CFAOC), chaired by State Comptroller Steve Westly, was created by Proposition 71, California’s stem cell initiative.
In a letter to Westly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) urged the committee not to seek an exemption from the state’s Fair Political Practices Code. Read the letter at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Westlyletter.pdf.
“Full disclosure of interests of committee members is imperative and they must be seen to be held to the highest ethical standards,” wrote John M. Simpson, FTCR’s Stem Cell Project Director.
FTCR said that at a minimum the financial committee should follow the same disclosure and conflict of interest requirements as members of the stem cell institute’s Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee.
The CFAOC is a six-member board that reviews the financial practices and performance of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Its first meeting is at 9 a.m., Sept. 14, in the California Public Utilities Commission building in San Francisco.
In addition to Westly CFAOC members are: Daniel Brunner, general counsel, Office of Special Health Care Negotiations; John Hein, former president, California Teachers’ Association; Jim Lott, executive vice president, Hospital Association of Southern California; Myrtle Potter, former vice president, Genentech, Inc. and Richard Siegal, Graves Diseases and glaucoma advocate.
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 will 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. Our stem cell information page is located at: http://www.stemcellwatch.org.