We asked Don Gibbons, CIRM's chief communications officer, about the issue last Friday morning. So far we have not heard back from him despite two additional queries. This morning we tried James Harrison, outside counsel to the board.
Our question to him was more specific and related to a provision that we found in state law (government code section 1020) that says,
“A person is incapable of holding a civil office if at the time of his election or appointment he is not 18 years of age and a citizen of the state.”So we asked Harrison about that in addition to an opinion by the state attorney general's office concerning application of the section in the case of an appointment of a person to fill an unexpired district attorney's term. That instance involved an elective office. So far we have not found an opinion concerning application of the code to a non-elective position, such as president of the stem cell agency.
Of course, the key is how “civil office” is defined. The government code contained no definition. We searched other sections of California law as well but turned up no definition. However, opinions by the attorney general that related to “civil office” that we uncovered dealt with popularly elected officials.
Another little twist is whether the chair is “elected.” The directors vote on the position, but he is not elected by a vote of citizens.
So what does this all mean? When did CIRM Chairman Robert Klein and Harrison know there was a difficulty? Why was it not disclosed until after the ruckus erupted about Klein's attempt to install a Canadian as his successor?
Perhaps all will be revealed on Day Four of the “Canadian Citizenship Question.”