by Steven Ertelt
May 10, 2005
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — The panel charged with distributing billions of dollars for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research may not be able to move forward this month with the first round of grants, as previously planned. California officials admitted lawsuits filed against the committee are hampering their efforts.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Treasurer Phil Angelides conceded yesterday that the lawsuits filed against the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine may prevent it from borrowing the money needed to authorize the first set of research awards.
Angelides told reports at a news conference, "We have a hard road to go here."
The lawsuits filed by consumer groups People’s Advocate and National Tax Limitation Foundation, allege that the state is illegally funding the stem cell panel without being able to have oversight. The lawsuit also cites violations of conflict of interest and state open meetings laws.
A new group, Californians for Public Accountability and Ethical Science, made up of pro-life advocates and others who oppose the unproven research, filed the second lawsuit.
The suit also points out that all but two members of the panel were appointed by top state officials, rather than elected or nominated by the public.
"The legal claims raised by the opponents have no merit and appear designed only to delay the inevitable," Lockyer said Monday in response.
The committee created by Proposition 71 met on Monday and authorized borrowing $3 billion in bonds for the stem cell agency. But the lawsuit has made it so it can’t sell long-term bonds while the case is pending.
Investors usually don’t want to purchase long-term bonds because litigation could make them worthless.
Angelides also criticized those groups filing the suits calling them "a narrow set of anti-choice activists who have an idealized zeal to stop stem cell research."
But Dana Cody, an attorney with the Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life law firm helping with the case, said the taxpayer groups opposing the stem cell committee have nothing to do with abortion.
"Mr. Angelides did not do his homework," she told KFMB-TV.