Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bee 'Flabbergasted' by Klein's Actions

The Sacramento Bee has not been pleased with Robert Klein virtually since he became chairman of the $3 billion California stem cell agency more than three years ago.

Earlier this week, the newspaper fired off another editorial lambasting Klein, this time accusing of him of misusing his office.

The case in point involves Klein's personal stem cell lobbying group, Americans for Cures, which recently publicly excoriated an offending state legislator in a posting on a widely read, national political blog.

The Bee wrote,
"Through his connections with the governor and other state leaders, Klein effectively directs who is appointed to the institute's 29-member oversight board, which includes university deans dependent on research funds that Klein controls.

"That should be enough power for any one public official. But not for Klein.

"Up until last week, Klein also served as president of Americans for Cures, an advocacy group that works out of offices he owns in Palo Alto. That linkage provides Klein with a nongovernmental agent with which to go after his opponents and further his institutional power."
The Bee continued:
"Government officials shouldn't be affiliated with special interest groups that lobby on issues that affect their agencies. After three years, it remains flabbergasting that Klein doesn't recognize that conflict and the injury it causes to the state's stem cell program. Even more curious is why the institute's 'oversight' board continues to condone it."
The Bee's editorial was written before the disclosure that Klein plans to spend 88 days traveling out of state this fiscal year at taxpayer expense. We are certain that the newspaper would have been even more exercised if that had been known at the time the editorial was written.

As far as Klein's reported resignation as president of Americans for Cures, so far no official announcement has been forthcoming. One report had it that the resignation would be announced after he told Sen. Sheila Kuehl, the object of his group's ire, about it. But her office said that Klein did not mention resigning in their conversation following the offending Internet post.

The delay in announcing his resignation may indicate that the earlier resignation reports amounted to something of a trial balloon effort by Klein in which Klein expected supporters to rally around him. Meanwhile, he is still listed as president on the Americans for Cures website.

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