Thursday, August 23, 2012

CIRM Board Member Prieto Defends Klein's Right to Appear Before Board

A member of the governing board of the California stem cell agency, Francisco Prieto, has commented in an email about the “unseemly performance” item concerning the agency's former chairman, Robert Klein. Prieto is a Sacramento physician who serves as a patient advocate member of the board. He has been on the board since its inception. Here are his remarks.
“I wanted to comment on this piece from the perspective of another patient advocate.  While I think you know that I did not always agree with Bob Klein during his tenure on the ICOC(the agency's governing board), I would strongly defend his right to appear and give his opinions to the Board.  He is a private citizen now, albeit one with considerable experience and expertise, and I think his greatest vested interest in this case stems (you should pardon the expression) from being the child of a parent with Alzheimers.  As you point out, some eyebrows may be raised, and I can imagine that some board members might be swayed in either direction by his testimony, but  he is a passionate and committed advocate, and he has the right to advocate before us.”
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6 comments:

  1. Jeff Sheehy12:20 PM

    While I have no opinion on the grant applications under discussion, I do agree with Dr. Prieto in his support of Bob Klein's right as a patient advocate to offer his opinion.

    Further, as someone who perhaps more than Dr. Prieto found himself not agreeing with Bob Klein during his tenure as Chair, in his advocacy for grants I never saw any motivation other than the best outcomes for patients.

    It is easy to strongly disagree with Bob--I did so often. However, there is no justification for impugning his integrity.

    Jeff Sheehy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous2:40 PM

    Robert Klein’s support of stem cell research is beyond reproach. His actions during the last ICOC meeting, however, are not.

    Yes: Klein may not be a paid lobbyist.
    Yes: He was lobbying the ICOC for the Stanford and Stem Cells Inc grants to be approved.

    Just because one is not the former does NOT preclude one from doing the latter.

    No one should deny that he lobbied the ICOC.

    Prieto and Sheehy, respected ICOC members, agree with Klein that his past tenure as founding and long-time chairman of the ICOC should not be an issue when it comes to lobbying the board for $40M in grant support Yet, that is exactly what makes Klein more than just an advocate or a citizen, like the many advocates who spoke so eloquently during the last meeting. The federal government has rules about agency representatives using the “revolving door” to advocate on behalf of entities seeking the assistance of the agency. The same should hold for CA agencies and specifically CIRM.

    Recent history illustrates too many cases of government agency representatives moving between government oversight and the private sector of the regulated resulting in the suggestion of serious conflicts of interest. The revolving door results in poisoning the environment with an increased risk of accusations of corruption.

    The importance of the CIRM experiment and stem cell research, something Klein clearly believes in, should not be diminished or seen as suspect due to the appearance of conflicts of interest or the use of the revolving door by ex-agency representatives, particularly one as powerful as Klein, to lobby (paid or not) on behalf of applicant institutions.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous2:42 PM

    Robert Klein’s support of stem cell research is beyond reproach. His actions during the last ICOC meeting, however, are not.

    Yes: Klein may not be a paid lobbyist.
    Yes: He was lobbying the ICOC for the Stanford and Stem Cells Inc grants to be approved.

    Just because one is not the former does NOT preclude one from doing the latter.

    No one should deny that he lobbied the ICOC.

    Prieto and Sheehy, respected ICOC members, agree with Klein that his past tenure as founding and long-time chairman of the ICOC should not be an issue when it comes to lobbying the board for $40M in grant support Yet, that is exactly what makes Klein more than just an advocate or a citizen, like the many advocates who spoke so eloquently during the last meeting. The federal government has rules about agency representatives using the “revolving door” to advocate on behalf of entities seeking the assistance of the agency. The same should hold for CA agencies and specifically CIRM.

    Recent history illustrates too many cases of government agency representatives moving between government oversight and the private sector of the regulated resulting in the suggestion of serious conflicts of interest. The revolving door results in poisoning the environment with an increased risk of accusations of corruption.

    The importance of the CIRM experiment and stem cell research, something Klein clearly believes in, should not be diminished or seen as suspect due to the appearance of conflicts of interest or the use of the revolving door by ex-agency representatives, particularly one as powerful as Klein, to lobby (paid or not) on behalf of applicant institutions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous2:44 PM

    Robert Klein’s support of stem cell research is beyond reproach. His actions during the last ICOC meeting, however, are not.

    Yes: Klein may not be a paid lobbyist.
    Yes: He was lobbying the ICOC for the Stanford and Stem Cells Inc grants to be approved.

    Just because one is not the former does NOT preclude one from doing the latter.

    No one should deny that he lobbied the ICOC.

    Prieto and Sheehy, respected ICOC members, agree with Klein that his past tenure as founding and long-time chairman of the ICOC should not be an issue when it comes to lobbying the board for $40M in grant support Yet, that is exactly what makes Klein more than just an advocate or a citizen, like the many advocates who spoke so eloquently during the last meeting. The federal government has rules about agency representatives using the “revolving door” to advocate on behalf of entities seeking the assistance of the agency. The same should hold for CA agencies and specifically CIRM.

    Recent history illustrates too many cases of government agency representatives moving between government oversight and the private sector of the regulated resulting in the suggestion of serious conflicts of interest. The revolving door results in poisoning the environment with an increased risk of accusations of corruption.

    The importance of the CIRM experiment and stem cell research, something Klein clearly believes in, should not be diminished or seen as suspect due to the appearance of conflicts of interest or the use of the revolving door by ex-agency representatives, particularly one as powerful as Klein, to lobby (paid or not) on behalf of applicant institutions.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous11:42 AM

    I agree with both Jeff Sheehy and Anonymous that Bob Klein is honestly dedicated to stem cell research. He has no hidden agenda...but unfortunately, he is naive, and listens too uncritically to what Irv Weissman tells him.

    It is Irv who has the hidden agenda- money for his pet projects at Stanford and the survival of his company, StemCells, Inc., which would have closed if it did not get an infusion of tens of millions of dollars from CIRM. Irv is passionate about his self-interests and has mastered the art of exploiting Bob's genuine passion for helping others. The real tragedy- the real travesty, is that Bob, who is truly dedicated, is being so easily and effectively manipulated.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous2:38 PM

    The poster above is completely confused about the nature and reason behind rules regulating paid advocacy. There are no federal rules against people advocating for agencies they previously regulated if they are not paid for it. The "revolving door" is a common phrase that refers to people going from being employed by the government and then by the private industry they previously regulated and back again. If someone is not paid, then there is no conflict of interest. He or she lumps together paid and unpaid "lobbying," but in fact there is a huge difference between the two. Bob Klein, as a private citizen, has the right to speak freely about things that he feels are important.

    ReplyDelete