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'Crisis Management' PR Firm's Advice to Stem Cell Agency Laundered Through Law Firm to Avoid Scrutiny
Date:2/7/2008

atchdog.org/resources/Rubenstein.pdf" target="_new">http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Rubenstein.pdf

The documents show Rubenstein was approached last October for advice by James Harrison, of the Remcho firm, when articles appeared in the Australian Herald-Sun saying that a researcher in the stem cell laboratory run by incoming CIRM President Dr. Alan Trounson was under investigation for improprieties. There was no suggestion that Trounson was under investigation or involved in any wrongdoing.

Although he had been hired, Trounson had not assumed the CIRM post when the news of the investigation in Australia broke. Harrison approached Rubenstein at the request of Richard Murphy, interim CIRM president. He wrote Rubenstein Executive Vice President Patrick M. Smith seeking "to retain your firm to assist us with a response to the article and the questions it raises."

Under the deal worked out with Rubenstein, the PR firm received $10,000 for its advice on CIRM's behalf. However the agreement is technically with Remcho. The letter of agreement with Remcho says, "As part of our services, Rubenstein will provide Remcho, Johansen & Purcell with strategic public relations advice and guidance relative to general corporate matters affecting the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine... Rubenstein's work on this matter will be considered part of your work product and will be governed, to the extent permitted by law, by attorney/client privilege."

But the letter makes clear who is paying for the advice. It's taxpayer dollars: "Rubenstein recognizes and agrees that under no circumstances will Remcho, Johansen & Purcell be liable to pay fees to Rubenstein that it has not received from its client for such purposes, and agrees to look exclusively to your client for payment of any outstanding fee."

Presumably the eight redacted pages contained specific advice from Rubenstein Associates on how to handle relations with the
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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