Stem cell lobbyists decide Sen. Sheila Kuehl isn't really craven, ignorant, mindless, and dumb

Posted by Jesse Reynolds July 15, 2008
Biopolitical Times
"Stem cell czar" Robert Klein

The chairman of California's stem cell research program took a long overdue step and resigned as president of a ­private stem cell research lobbying organization. This comes on the heels of a scathing blog post from his group, Americans for Cures, that belittled the intelligence and motives of state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, calling her "craven," "ignorant," "mindless," and "dumb."

Kuehl, the progressive chair of the Health Committee, is backing a bill to gently alter the policies of the public agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The letter was posted on the popular blog The Daily Kos, but soon removed, and Americans for Cures issued an apology.

Over the last three and a half years, ­we­ (1, 2, 3, 4) and others described Robert Klein's dual roles of public servant and private advocate as inappropriate, and called for him to resign. In fact, there's now a feeling of déjà vu. When the CIRM was first established at the start of 2005, Klein initially tried to wear the same two hats, then as head of the advocacy group California Research and Cures Coalition. But after pressure from us and other groups, he stepped down from the advocacy position.

Even without an official role, Klein is likely to keep one foot in the advocacy world. After all, Americans for Cures still shares an office and fax line with Klein Financial Corporation. We can expect to see the group praise many of the positions he takes at the CIRM (1, 2), and to watch him smear some elected officials while endorsing others. For this reason, and others, we believe Klein should keep the promise he made when he first took the reins at the CIRM, when he assuaged critics by promising to serve only half his term. Those three years have passed, and it is time for Klein to move on.

Update (July 16): The Niche blog reports that Klein is merely resigning as President of the board of Americans for Cures, and intends to remain as a member of the board. In addition, the Americans for Cures / Klein Financial Corporation office will serve as a site of an upcoming CIRM meeting.