Missouri Group Paid 1.3M for Signatures for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Missouri Group Paid 1.3M for Signatures for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 25, 2006

Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Offering further proof to Missouri pro-life advocates that it doesn’t represent a real grassroots effort, a new report indicates that a group trying to put a measure to promote embryonic stem cell research on the November ballot spent well over a million dollars on paid petition gatherers.

When organizations try to put initiatives on a ballot, most residents think of friends and neighbors gathering at malls, retail stores and churches to collect signature for a certain cause.

But the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures relied on paid professional signature gatherers to collect the signatures necessary to qualify its ballot initiative, which also allows some forms of human cloning.

The group spent almost $1.3 million to pay signature gatherers, according to an Associated Press report. The money went to an out-of-state firm — the Michigan-based National Petition Management, which hires people to obtain signatures.

Other campaigns to get initiatives on the ballot spent money on professional signature gatherers too, but the pro-embryonic stem cell research group spent $300,000 more than the next highest spender. It also accounted for about one-third of all money spent on getting signatures even though several other groups were looking for signatures for their proposals.

Earlier this month, the group turned in 288,991 petition signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.

The Secretary of State has until August 8 to complete the process of verifying them.

Jaci Winship, director of Missourians Against Human Cloning, accused backers of buying a place on the Missouri ballot. She said backers have received millions from the Stowers research center for the proposal and would "whatever is necessary to deceive the voters into supporting this unethical amendment."

Winship also pointed out that less than 10% of the registered voters signed the petition, even with their "army" of paid signature gatherers.

"While the proponents claim to have the support of the majority of Missourians, we know 10% is a long way from a majority," she said, adding that she expected voted to reject the initiative in November.

Meanwhile, almost all of the $10 million the pro-cloning group raised through May 17 came from two people — James and Virginia Stowers. The group has received only about 5 percent of its funds from average Missouri residents.

Missourians Against Human Cloning tried to get the initiative thrown off the ballot or its wording changed because, although it claims to ban human cloning, the proposal includes support for human cloning for research purposes.

The summary of the proposition, which is what appears on the ballot, may deceive voters into thinking all forms of human cloning are prohibited. However, the Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving a challenge by pro-life groups to the language of the initiative.

Related web sites:
Missourians Against Human Cloning – https://www.nocloning.org