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New Conflict of Interest Violations Revealed at California Stem Cell Institute
Date:12/7/2007

wise would be unfair to all those who acted correctly. For instance, Dr. Philip Pizzo, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, told the Chronicle: "I can only say that as a member of the (stem cell governing board), I am well aware that I must recuse myself from any grant application, proposal or action related to Stanford or any other individual or setting where I could have a conflict of interest."

FTCR has filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) about the Reed incident and called for both him and stem cell chairman Robert Klein to resign. Stem cell board members Jeff Sheehy and David Serrano Sewell have also called for Reed to step down from the board. State Controller John Chiang has announced plans to audit the agency and asked the FPPC to investigate.

The latest improprieties, though serious, are not as egregious as the Reed affair, FTCR said. The agency's call for applications asked for a letter of support either from the dean or department chairman. "Board members have signed conflict of interest rules and clearly should know what's right and what they can do," said Simpson. "However, this is not the same flagrant violation as actively lobbying to overturn a decision. Throwing out the tainted applications should be an adequate punishment."

FTCR also said that the stem cell committee should discuss at its meeting Wednesday what penalties are right for violations of its rules by board members. "They've got all these supposed rules that Chairman Klein likes to call 'the gold-standard,' but they are absolutely meaningless unless there are consequences when they are broken," said Simpson.

Proposition 71, passed by 59 percent of Californians in 2004, created an oversight board fraught with potential conflicts of interest. "Most of the people handing out the money are the very same people from the institutions that get the money," said Simpson. "That means the conflict rules in place must
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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