Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stem Cell Politics: Beware the ESC Troglodytes

At one point stem cell advocates deplored the intrusion of politics into stem cell research. They pointed to President Bush's intrusion into the science as an example of how harmful it could be.
No more. Stem cell advocates are now hammering away at the need to throw out the nonbelievers and defeat the ESC troglodytes.
A fair amount has already been written about the stem cell political push elsewhere in the country. But the issue has surfaced in a few races in California as well.
One of the political enterprises involved is Robert Klein's Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures, whose headquarters are located in his business offices. (Klein, of course, is also the chairman of the California stem cell agency.)
The Americans group has produced a report card on the California statewide races from governor to controller, but does not rate California legislative or congressional candidates. Singled out for special attention is State Sen. Tom McClintock, a Republican who is running for lieutenant governor.
Reporter Rebecca Veseley of the Contra Costa Times covered a news conference this week during which Klein disparaged McClintock as representing "the far right." Klein noted that the lieutenant governor can make five apppointments to the Oversight Committee for CIRM. He said that could place McClintock in a position where he could damage stem cell research. A spokesman for McClintock said he would apppoint "taxpayer watchdogs who will demand accountability."
Klein's group is primarily pushing a national agenda, building mailing lists, arranging for speakers and drumming up voter turnout.
Klein also makes personal political contributions. We do not yet know the figures for this fall, but he contributed $5,000 last spring to Debra Bowen who defeated Deborah Ortiz, a longtime stem cell advocate, for the Democratic nomination for California secretary of state. Ortiz riled Klein with her insistence on greater accountability from CIRM, and he lambasted her publicly "as an ongoing threat" shortly before the primary election last June. Sphere: Related Content

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