Saturday, April 22, 2006

Stem Cell Hard Ball Under the Dome

Working the halls of the California Capitol can be bruising. Just how bruising is illustrated in an article concerning the appearance by Jeff Sheehy, a member of the Oversight Committee of the California stem cell agency, before a legislative group.

Written by Laura Mecoy, the piece deals with the Assembly Health Committee hearing on SB401, which is aimed at tightening oversight of the stem cell agency. Sheehy, who testified against the measure, owes his position on the Oversight Committee to an appointment by a former leader of the state Senate, now out of office.

Mecoy quotes Sheehy as saying saying Senate staffers tried to intimidate him into not testifying. He says he feels his position on the Oversight Committee is "at risk," although there is apparently no way for the Senate to remove him.
"They said, 'Don't come. We're going to shove this down your throat,'" Sheehy was quoted as saying.
Sen. Deborah Ortiz said she did not ask the particular staffer in question to speak to Sheehy, but she did say that she that she asked another staffer to speak to him concerning "inappropriate" behavior following the hearing.

Sheehy said that after the hearing he threatened to campaign against her in San Francisco in her bid for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.
Mecoy wrote:
"'He has the right to oppose me for whatever reason,' (Ortiz) said. 'But you do not make the connection between a piece of legislation and an election.'

"Sheehy said he wouldn't normally have made such a connection. But he said he believes Ortiz is pursuing the Senate bill to help her secretary of state campaign."
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