Friday, April 26, 2013

California Stem Cell Agency Seeks Lobbyist Bids

The California stem cell agency has put out a bid for a private lobbyist to watch out for its interests in Sacramento, perhaps severing a longtime relationship with one of the Capitol's more prestigious power brokers.

The $3 billion agency has had a contract since 2005 with Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leoni LLP of Sacramento, which reported lobbying revenue last year of more than $5 million. That made it one of the top revenue producers among California lobbyists.

The agency's contract is tiny, however. It started at $49,900 for five months in 2005 on a no-bid contract with Nielsen, although the annual figure is now $49,999.  The agency's request this month for bids calls for a boost to $65,000 annually.

Nielsen Merksamer is very active in health care lobbying. Its biotech/pharmaceutical clients have included Genentech, Merck & Co. and Pfizer. The firm also played a role in the drafting of and campaign for Proposition 71 in 2004. In 2009, at the behest of Robert Klein, then chairman of the agency, it produced a legal memo that Klein used to help box in the agency governing board on taking a position on the Little Hoover Commission report recommending major changes at the enterprise.

The stem cell agency is one of the few agencies that hires a private lobbyist, which has raised some eyebrows. Nearly all agencies handle legislative relations internally.

Deadline for bids is May 3.

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