New Jersey Governor Directs Illegal Funds to Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 26, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Governor Directs Illegal Funds to Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
July 26, 2004

Trenton, NJ ( — New Jersey’s funding of embryonic stem cell research has increased, after illegally contributed funds to the Democratic Party and Governor Jim McGreevey were donated to the effort.

Meanwhile, a leader in the effort to legalize the destructive research pleaded guilty to charges related to a string of graft, bribery and corruption among Hudson County (NJ) officials.

The New Jersey Democratic Party and Gov. McGreevey announced Monday that they will give $13,600 in contributions from leading financial backer Charles Kushner to the New Jersey Stem Cell Institute, in the wake of charges against the real estate developer for conspiracy, prostitution, and obstruction of justice.

Kushner, subject to a grand jury investigation regarding his campaign contributions and alleged tax fraud, reportedly hired prostitutes to attempt to lure witnesses into compromising situations which, when videotaped, could be used for blackmail.

Democrats called the donation “a pittance” relative to the over $1 million donated to McGreevey and the party in the past few years. The $13,600 being given away consists of a $10,000 donation to the Democratic State Committee made in 2002, a 2001 donation of $2,600 to McGreevey’s gubernatorial campaign, and $1,000 contribution to the state committee’s federal political action committee made in 2000.

On the same day as the Democratic Party’s announcement was made, Paul Byrne, a leading supporter of the legalization of embryonic stem cell research, admitted to passing bribes to former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski. Byrne’s admission closes the doors on a two-year long investigation into political corruption in Hudson County.

Elise DiNardo, Byrne’s attorney, said hopes to be remembered, not for his crimes, but for his active role in pushing for New Jersey to be the second state to legalize embryonic stem cell research.

“Like the research it embodies, The Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey is rooted in an unethical and immoral foundation," said New Jersey Right to Life’s Public and Legislative Affairs Director Marie Tasy.

The New Jersey Stem Cell Institute is the first taxpayer-funded embryonic research program, and has received criticism for its lack of voter approval. McGreevey added $11.5 million in funding for the Institute to the state budget just before it was approved.