Mitt Romney’s Blind Trust Contained Embryonic Stem Cell Research Stocks

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 15, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mitt Romney’s Blind Trust Contained Embryonic Stem Cell Research Stocks Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 15,

Washington, DC ( — Embryonic stem cell research is the issue that prompted Mitt Romney’s conversion to the pro-life perspective. Yet, a new analysis of his financial records finds he owned stock in two companies that conduct the controversial research, which pro-life advocates oppose because it involves the destruction of human life.

Though the ownership of the stocks may draw an outcry from pro-life advocates, Romney has no control over the management of the blind trust that holds his investments.

As of a June 30 financial report, Romney owned stock in two companies, Novo Nordisk and Millipore Corp., and both destroy human embryos for their stem cells for research

However, Romney has no control over the approximately $200 million in investments he owns as all of his assets are held in a blind trust managed by the law firm Ropes & Gray.

Law firm spokesman Brad Malt gave an interview to on Wednesday afternoon during which he explained that the former Massachusetts governor put his assets in the blind trust to ensure he did not make policy decisions that affect the companies in his portfolio.

Malt says Romney has no control over what companies his trust managers choose to invest in, though he can make financial decisions that reflect the governor’s views.

"The whole purpose of the blind trust is so Romney isn’t aware of the stock that he owns and that he can’t influence any of his views on legislation," Malt told "I have complete authority and discretion to manage the trust."

"Indeed he didn’t know about the investments [in the stem cell companies]," Malt added. "I would hope that no one would attribute any of the stocks good or bad to Mitt Romney."

Malt says he has always tried to reflect Romeny’s personal views when it comes to the selection of investments and told that he divested the portfolio of stocks in companies doing business in Iran after Romney spoke out about that nation’s government.

He said he has "heightened the effort to make the stocks reflect his personal views" since Romney announced his presidential campaign "and will continue to do so."

Should Romney ask him to remove any companies conducting embryonic stem cell research from the portfolio, Malt said any decision to alter the investments would be up to him.

"He cant personally change it. That doesn’t mean it cant be changed," Malt added.

Still, Mildred Jefferson, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, told the Boston Herald the former governor should try to divest of any companies engaged in the destructive and unproven research.

“I believe (pulling the investments) is a step he should take,” she said. “I do believe (Romney) is an honorable man, and having declared that he understands the ethical violation in embryonic stem cell research, I feel certain he would not want to have his money go to support it.”

Looking at the companies, Novo Nordisk, based in Denmark, manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products helping patients with diabetes. The company’s web site says it "will only use human embryonic stem cells when is anticipated that the same results cannot be obtained from the use of adult stem cells."

The company, of which Romney had between $100,000 and $250,000 in stock, maintains it is "essential" to pursue both adult and embryonic stem cell research.

Millipore Corporation supplies scientists, laboratories, semiconductor manufacturers, and pharmacy and hospital workers with filtration and purification solutions around the globe.

The Massachusetts company makes human embryonic stem cells available to scientists in Australia and around the world.

"Recognizing the diversity of opinions regarding embryonic stem cell research, Millipore is dedicated to conducting its business in an ethical and scientifically responsible manner," it claims on its web site.

Malt explained that Romney never directly owned stock in Millipore Corp., although the company was included in a mutual fund he added to the portfolio.

Matt Rhoades, communications director for Romney’s presidential campaign, also talked with about the investments.

"Governor Romney has made his public policy position on the issue of stem cell research very clear," he said.

"The governor’s assets are in a blind trust and the trustee clearly stated that he has — to the best of his ability — executed transactions in a manner consistent with the public statements and policy positions of the governor and will continue to do so where applicable," Rhoades explained.

While Romney opposes the creation and destruction of life via embryonic stem cell research, he has supported the use of so-called leftover human embryos from fertility clinics that are slated for discarding.

Still, he said he would have vetoed the two bills President Bush refused to sign that would have forced taxpayers to fund the destruction of "leftover" human embryos for their stem cells.