by Steven Ertelt
June 6, 2005
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — The battle over a lawsuit related to the committee charged with disbursing $3 billion for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research is intensifying. The committee is seeking ways to fund its projects and a leading pro-life attorney behind the lawsuit has been threatened.
Dana Cody, the executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, one of the two groups that have filed a lawsuit against the committee, has been receiving threats on her group’s voice mail system.
"One was ‘I hope your children get cancer and die,’ " the 52-year-old grandmother said. "Several callers threatened to have me disbarred."
Cody told the Sacramento Bee newspaper she has never before received telephone threats despite the groups involvement in controversial pro-life efforts and helping the parents of disabled woman Terri Schiavo, who was starved to death in March.
The two lawsuits are putting funding of the cloning and stem cell research grants into question, because the committee can’t sell bonds to finance the grants until the lawsuits have concluded.
Grants were supposed to be sent out in May and members of the stem cell agency’s Independent Citizens Oversight Committee meet Monday to discuss the lawsuit and find alternative ways of funding the grants.
It will also discuss a $5 million donation audio pioneer Ray Dolby wishes to give to keep the agency afloat after November, when its current funds will become depleted.
However, Robert Klein, the board’s chairman, told the Bee that the agency needs $100 million to operate after November. The California Institute for Regenerative M received a $3 million startup loan in January.
Klein told the Bee his agency may sell $200 million in bond anticipation notes, valid only if the lawsuits are defeated. He hopes charitable groups and disease organizations will buy them.
However, David Llewellyn, another attorney involved in the stem cell lawsuits, told the Sacramento paper that the bond notes would be subject to a lawsuit as well.
"If they think they have problems now, they will have more problems soon," he said.
Others, like state Finance Director Tom Campbell, questioned the need for the notes. He said the charitable and disease groups could just donate to the agency directly instead of purchasing notes.
He also worries the notes would violate the spirit of Proposition 71.
"The voters, when they approved the (stem cell) initiative, understood there would be the usual kinds of processes in putting out the bonds," he said.