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Fair Political Practices Commission Will Investigate Stem Cell Conflict of Interest
Date:12/10/2007

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- California's Fair Political Practices Commission today agreed to investigate a conflict of interest complaint against stem cell board member John Reed, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said.

The non-partisan, non-profit consumer advocacy organization filed the complaint two weeks ago against Reed who is also president of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, because he improperly intervened seeking to overturn a staff rejection of a grant to his institution. Word that the FPPC would investigate FTCR's complaint came in a telephone call from the commission.

"The stem cell board would be best served if Reed simply resigned," said John M. Simpson, FTCR's Stem Cell Project director. Simpson has also called for stem cell committee Chairman Robert Klein to step aside as chairman of the oversight board.

Two weeks after the revelation of the Reed affair, additional conflict of interest violations came to light when the stem cell agency tossed out ten applications for research grants because other board members had written letters in their support.

"Klein got the stem cell agency off the ground with great entrepreneurial spirit," said Simpson. "However, he has never understood that the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is a state agency. It's time he passed the torch to someone who understands. CIRM is not a private foundation and cannot be run as if it were."

After the Reed case surfaced and FTCR filed its complaint, State Controller John Chiang announced plans to audit the agency and also called for an FPPC investigation.

At its meeting on Wednesday in Los Angeles the oversight board will consider awarding up to $85 million in grants aimed at faculty members just starting their independent research careers. The grants in question could total $3 million each over five years.

While stressing that the be
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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