Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Background Statement from Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures

Here is the background statement by Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures re the letter by Robert Klein concerning SB401. The statement provides some background on the organization as well. (For more, see the Klein-Ortiz item.

The statement begins here

June 7, 2006

Statement of Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures

The statement issued on June 5th, 2006 by Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures (a 501(c)4 organization dedicated to advancing education, patient advocacy, and political support for stem cell research) represents only the views of the Proposition 71 campaign committee organization (originally entitled Californians for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures). The three Directors who signed the statement were Directors during the campaign and they remain Directors. The name of the organization has been changed to indicate a reorientation of focus to national educational needs on stem cell research, as well as the need for reform of the federal restrictive policies that bar effective National Institutes of Health funding of embryonic stem cell research. The organization also strongly supports the expansion of regenerative medicine (including embryonic stem cell research) in other states, as well as continuing its support for stem cell research in California.

No Other Organization Involved in the Statement

No other organization was involved in formulating the statement, directly or indirectly. It represents the position of the Proposition 71 campaign committee as articulated through the renamed 501(c)4. Specifically, the Directors – including the Chairman of Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures, Robert Klein – hold a number of other positions with patient advocacy and/or educational institutions which did not participate in formulating this statement. For example, Robert Klein is a member of the International Board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; but, this statement did not involve and it was not formulated with any of their staff or other Board members. Similarly, this statement did not involve and it was not formulated with any of the staff or other Board members of the ICOC or the CIRM. This statement represents the personal viewpoints of the Board members of Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures as expressed through the statement of this entity. Members of the Board were polled to confirm the content of the statement before it was released.

Prior Statements of the Role and Scope of Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures

The current mission of Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures remains consistent with the role previously described by Robert Klein when asked at a press break in the February 3rd, 2005 ICOC meeting in San Diego about his continuing personal role as Chairman of the Proposition 71 campaign committee, then entitled Californians for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures. Robert Klein stated that he would continue as Chairman with the responsibility to guide the federal education and advocacy efforts, with a goal of raising a million dollars for that effort, while working on retiring the remaining $1.4 million in campaign vendor obligations. He specifically pointed out that this organization was completely different and separate from the Alliance for Stem Cell Research (formerly called the California Research and Cures Coalition), from which he had resigned as Chairman before being elected to the ICOC Chairmanship.

Distribution of the 501(c)4 Statement Against SB401 on June 5th, 2006

The statement distributed on June 5th was restricted to organizations and individuals who had previously communicated with the Proposition 71 campaign committee staff and expressed an interest over the last 2 years (since April 2004) in updated information as it became available. The statement to organizations focused on the negative impact potential of SB401 and related unconstructive legislation cosponsored by Senator Ortiz and the anti-stem cell conservative Senator Runner. The statement expressed an appreciation for the highly constructive leadership of Senator Don Perata, Senator Joe Dunn, Senator Jackie Speier, and Senator Deborah Bowen who led a joint legislative effort, with the leadership of the Board and staff of the CIRM, to improve the transparency, public reporting, public notice, and conflicts of interest provisions of Proposition 71. The CIRM now leads the nation, with the most stringent standards in these areas, along with its national leadership on medical and ethical standards for stem cell research. The CIRM developed its model medical and ethical research standards in cooperation with a national task force of the National Academies of Science, supplemented by information and input gained in numerous public hearings in the State of California.

There was no general distribution of this statement, as it was not deemed to be necessary at this time. No interviews were given to promote the statement. The intent of the statement was to rebut the highly misleading statements of Senator Ortiz on the value of SB401 and related legislation which she claimed were essential to address defects in Proposition 71. In her May 12, 2006 Superior Court decision, Judge Bonnie Sabraw rejected the claim by the plaintiffs contesting the Constitutionality of Proposition 71 that there were defects in the Proposition and/or its implementation. In part, she stated:

“The evidence at trial establishes that the application of the Act has been in compliance with hits statutory framework, and that CIRM and the ICOC are operating in the same fashion as other state agencies. Each ICOC member, and each alternate, has taken the oath of office and publicly filed Form 700, the standard form California public officials file to disclose financial holdings. The ICOC developed and adopted incompatible activities statements, the conflict of interest code required by the Political Reform Act, and conflict of interest policies for ICOC members, CIRM staff, and members of each of the ICOC advisory grouops. Between January 2005 and the date of trial, the ICOC, its subcommittees, and its working groups held over 40 noticed, public meetings, in cities across the state, held pursuant to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. CIRM has responded to numerous Public Records Act requests. The selection of the site for CIRM’s facilities was run by the Department of General Services, as required of state agencies, which department also executed the lease. The required independent audit is in process and is to be reviewed by the Citizen’s Financial Oversight Committee. In addition, testimony was presented that CIRM is subject to audit by the Controller and the Department of Finance, and that the Controller has met with the ICOC to discuss the type of practices he expected the ICOC to follow.”

In 41 additional pages, Judge Sabraw examined Proposition 71 and the CIRM with a microscope and she concluded that it is operating properly, in every facet of its mandate, and it includes numerous safeguards, public transparency, and accountability requirements that are often layered, to provide several levels of protection for the public.

The statement was stimulated by a San Diego Union Tribune article on June 2nd, 2006. It clearly indicated that Senator Ortiz’s press operation had succeeded in misleading a highly responsible and thoughtful journalist as to the Senator’s importance in the “creation” of Proposition 71 and the allegedly positive effect of her legislative attacks on Proposition 71. Senator Ortiz did not see drafts of Proposition 71 until after it was finished and submitted to the Attorney General for certification for the petition process. She did not participate in its drafting. She previously supported Proposition 71, during the election campaign; but, since the election, she has co-sponsored her legislation with the most conservative, anti-stem cell element in the Senate in a “grandstanding” attempt to impose her personal view of how the Proposition should be changed, even after Senator Perata, Senator Dunn, Senator Speier, Senator Bowen, and other legislative leaders had endorsed the enhancements to Proposition 71, jointly constructed with the leadership of the ICOC and the CIRM. Unfortunately, it was not possible for the Board of the Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures and the staff of that organization to draft a response and distribute it to the Board members for clearance until the following Monday, June 5th. It is the intent of the organization to immediately respond, when grossly misleading information on Proposition 71 is issued by any member of a public or private organization. It is hoped that these occasions will be rare.

In addition, as stated earlier, the Legislature – led by Senators Perata, Dunn, Speier and Bowen, with input from the Assembly leadership offices – jointly and constructively worked with the ICOC and CIRM leadership to enhance Proposition 71 provisions. Senator Ortiz participated in these discussions; but, she broke from the group consensus and continued her attacks on Proposition 71, when she realized there was not a legislative consensus to adopt every one of her very detailed demands.

Staffing and Office

Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures operations include sharing a single office at the location of Robert Klein’s personal offices. It has recently contracted with two independent consultants to expand its staffing support for the federal and 5-state focus of its efforts outside of California. Donations to the organization are not tax deductible, because it is a 501(c)4 committed to education, political advocacy, and political reform. Donations can be sent to 550 California Avenue, Suite 330, Palo Alto, CA 94306. Sphere: Related Content

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