Santa Monica, CA — The release of only the names of donors without amounts to the “Reach for Tomorrow, Research Today” Gala fundraiser benefiting the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) makes a total mockery of public accountability, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today.
In a letter to Dr. Zach Hall, CIRM president, John M. Simpson, FTCR’s Stem Cell Project director, said the method followed with the donations is “nothing more than laundering money to evade CIRM‘s own policies.” Read the letter.
Organizers of the black-tie fundraiser featuring Julie Andrews held last month in San Francisco collected the donations. The San Francisco Foundation will write one check to CIRM for the money raised after paying the gala’s expenses. CIRM officials said they don’t know the amount that has been raised yet.
The gift policy adopted by the stem cell oversight committee in April requires that when gifts are accepted, the amount, the donors name and biographical information be listed. CIRM received only a list of the names of the donors from the gala organizers and provided it to FTCR. Read the list.
“Listing names without contribution levels and donor affiliations does not give the public the information needed to judge if there are conflicts of interest,” Simpson wrote. “A quick look at the list shows donors who are executives from biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies and venture capital firms.”
Proposition 71 provides $6 billion in taxpayer-funded stem cell research and bond financing. However, the institute has been unable to sell bonds because of legal challenges to the agency. A superior court judge ruled in favor of the agency in April, but appeals are expected to delay the bonds until next spring.
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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.