Friday, June 20, 2008

Half-Million Salary for Klein?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Back in the early days of the California stem cell research effort, its newly elected chairman – millionaire real estate investment banker Robert Klein -- said he would not accept a salary for his work.

Now that is changing. He could be drawing a salary as high as $508,750, perhaps as early as this year. But the money may not come from state coffers.

The question of salaries for both the chairman of CIRM and the vice chairman came up during Thursday's hearing on the agency's budget for 2008-09.

John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the Consumer Watchdog group of Santa Monica, Ca., asked whether the budget included salaries for the chairman and the vice chair.

The answer was no. But Klein, who has held his post since December 2005, said, "It's true at some point this issue needs to be addressed."

He said that personally he would like to see "non-taxpayer dollars" used for salaries for the chairman and vice chairman rather than using funds that could be used for research. He indicated that he would not be averse to raising private funds for salary purposes.

The vice chairman of CIRM is Ed Penhoet, also a multimillionaire. He does not accept a salary. We are querying him on his position on salaries.

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