Monday, January 31, 2011

California Stem Cell Agency Already Has Posted Some Statements of Economic Interests

The California stem cell agency was Johnny-on-the-spot last week when its directors approved posting statements of economic interest on the CIRM web site.

Moments after the vote, Don Gibbons, chief communications officer for the agency, emailed the California Stem Cell Report, pointing out that the statements of the top executives were already up. They can found at this location or by searching the CIRM site on the term "form 700," the number of the state form used, or "economic interests."

Statements are available today from the chairman (Robert Klein), the two vice chairs(Art Torres and Duane Roth), president(Alan Trounson), vice president of operations(John Robson), general counsel (Elona Baum), executive director of scientific activities (Patricia Olson) and Gibbons.

Gibbons said the statements from all the 29 directors will be posted soon. Expense claims for directors and executives will be posted beginning in April.

If you would like to see statements of economic interest sooner, you can find them here. They were posted on the Internet by the California Stem Cell Report last summer after CIRM had failed to act on the unanimous recommendation from the Citizens Financial Accountability Oversight Committee that the statements be made available online. The panel is the only state body specifically charged with overseeing CIRM finances. It made its recommendations 12 months ago.

The CIRM form 700s can be found more easily than those of the top aides to Gov. Jerry Brown. Indeed, his web site does not even have a search function. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began posting the forms and expense claims for his top staff and appointees following a flap about conflicts of interest and expense claims. It is not clear whether Brown will post the statements. A handful of other state officials are also posting the statements online.

The $3 billion stem cell agency differs significantly from other state agencies and contains built-in conflicts of interests dictated by Prop. 71, which created the agency in 2004. Its directors are employed by institutions that have received nearly all the $1.1 billion in grants that the agency has handed out.

Here is a list of institutions that have or had seats on the board and their grant totals as of last week:  Stanford, $176 million; UCLA, $135 million; UCSF, $111 million; UCSD, $77 million; USC, $72 million; UC Irvine, $72 million; UC Davis, $61 million; City of Hope, $42 million; UC Berkeley, $37 million; Scripps, $37 million; Salk, $37 million; Sanford-Burnham, $31 million; UC Santa Cruz, $19 million; UC Santa Barbara, $13 million; UC Merced, $8 million; UC Riverside, $6 million, Cedars-Sinai, $9 million; Caltech, $2.3 million, and Childrens Hospital Research Institute, $55,000. One CIRM director, Sherry Lansing, a UC regent, accounts for many of the connections to the smaller UC campuses.

Last Thursday, directors awarded more cash to the following institutions with current or former CIRM directors: Stanford, $10.5 million; UC Berkely, $3 million; UCSD, $2.7 million; UCLA, $2.6 million; Salk, $2.3 million, Cedars-Sinai, $1.8 million, and UCSF, $1.8 million.

Directors with financial ties to applicants are barred from voting on their applications. Directors, however, approve concepts for grant programs and the rules for administering them. A former director tied to the Sanford-Burnham Institute and others ran afoul of conflict rules in 2007. The issue with Sanford-Burnham was disclosed by the California Stem Cell Report. The case resulted in a warning by the state Fair Political Practices Commission. The Sanford-Burnham official acted after he was advised to do so by CIRM Chairman Klein, an attorney who later said his advice was an "inadvertent error."

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this item incorrectly indicated that Salk was currently represented on the CIRM board. In fact, Salk last week lost its seat.) Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Post a Comment