Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Roiling Undercurrents on Klein

Rumblings around the corridors in the Capitol in Sacramento are not kind to Robert Klein, the chairman of California's stem cell agency.

“Meglomaniac and liar” are a couple of the terms bandied about. These do not come from some disgruntled job seeker.

According to one source, “Legislators who have had any contact with Klein generally believe Klein is ICOC's (stem cell agency oversight committee) own worst enemy. He has driven everyone here nuts.

“He's spent the last couple of weeks visiting every legislator and legislative leader trying to get them” to call off last week's hearing into the agency.

“The feeling under the dome is the guy's a megalomaniac and a liar. No one agreed with his request to call off the hearing.

“If anything, it only made them mistrust him more and raised concerns about what is going on over there behind closed doors.”

Apparently that is what led to more aggressive than normal questioning of the interim president of the agency, Zach Hall, by members of the unusual legislative panel. Klein was absent and sent Hall.

Klein's behind-the-scenes lobbying came after he publicly stated he was willing to cooperate with legislators. It also came at the same time, that his allied nonprofit organization, Cures for California, sent out emails across the country to generate pressure on the legislature. The messages solicited recipients (presumably disease sufferers) to send emails to the Legislature or call seeking postponement of the legislative hearing.

The email said, “The hearing will inevitably generate press which could be damaging to the efforts of the Institute, and could impede their incredibly important work. The patient community needs your help!”

“Please mobilize within the next 12 hours!” the email exclaimed.

However, Klein earned good marks for having Hall testify at the hearing. “Congenial” was one word describing Hall although he did not ease all concerns.

In another way Hall was also a plus. “The less ICOC and the Institute are associated with Bob Klein, the better the public's confidence will be in their implementation of Prop 71,” a Capitol source said.

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