In response to questions from the California Stem Cell Report, Amy Daly, executive director of Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures, Klein's private lobbying group, said:
"Bob Klein's company's is not at all involved in this project other than to allow Bob to donate his time to the endeavor. There is no monetary benefit for Bob in this project. He is not getting paid and there will be no financial (or other) benefit to his company as a result of this project."She also said that CIRM is not connected with the proposal near Sacramento and is "completely separate." CIRM itself has had no comment on the plan. The agency said it knows nothing about it.
Daly's response came as the Center for Genetics and Society Friday published sharp criticism of the plan on its blog "Biopolitical Times."
Jesse Reynolds, project director on biotechnology accountability, wrote that the proposal raises a question of whether another stem cell research center is justified. He continued:
"The second issue is the egregious nature of Robert Klein's conflicting roles. His lobbying group gets a hefty donation, and his imprimatur hints that the new center would be a likely magnet for public financial support. And who knows if he's got his own finger in the pot, given that his business dealings are obfuscated via dozens of corporations and holding companies.Daly said that Klein and Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopolous met only recently. She said that they "have not worked on any project in the past."
"Meanwhile, he sits as not only a public servant, but as one with significant influence over how billions of public dollars are spent. Although he's promised not to profit from biotech while he's chair of the state stem cell agency, does he consider an investment in the land development part of this vow? And how would the public ever know?
"Regardless, as we've said before, Klein needs to decide whether he is a lobbyist or a public official. He can't be both."
"As I understand it, they met in January 2007 when they both were in Washington for inaugural activities. Both are strong supporters of Nancy Pelosi.She said opponents are trying to stop the project, which will be discussed by Yolo County supervisors July 17, before it moves beyond the discussion stage.
"Around that same time, Yolo County had put into their general plan a desire to have an economic development proposal. The Tsakopoulos family owns land there and they were hoping to leave some lasting legacy for the county beyond just immediate economic development.
"Bob and Angelo had dinner here in California upon their return and discussed the possibility of a Regenerative Medicine Institute in Yolo County. Angelo and his children were thrilled to have an opportunity to change the world much in the way we believe Proposition 71 will change it. As I mentioned in my email to you yesterday, we are hoping that this Regenerative Medicine Institute, funded by the soon to be formed non-profit, Bridge to Cures, will bridge the funding gap for translational medicine that currently exists and that CIRM has not yet addressed."
See below for an information sheet on the Yolo stem cell proposal being circulated on behalf of the effort.