People in Missouri go to the polls November 7th to vote on Amendment 2, which would allow controversial embryonic stem cell research and would, some critics say, opens the door to human cloning. A billionaire couple, Jim and Virginia Stowers, has pumped $29 million “The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures” – 97% of its financial support—in an effort to get the amendment passed. The Stowers’ millions are funding television, radio, print and billboard ads all over the state. But the couple, who is paying the most In an effort to pass Amendment 2, may stand to gain the most if it does.
Jim Stowers is the founder & CEO of American Century Investments, a privately held asset management firm with a $100 billion portfolio. The firm invests significantly in the healthcare sector, including biotechnology, pharmaceutical and healthcare equipment & supply companies. If Amendment 2 passes, Jim Stowers’ company would be positioned perfectly to take advantage of the enormous sums of venture capital that would flow into Missouri. In fact, Stowers is reportedly eager to turn Kansas City, Missourie into the Silicon Valley of biomedical research.
Jim and Virginia run the Stowers Institute, a non-profit biomedical research organization based in Kansas City, Missouri, with a $2 billion endowment. It has been reported that the Institute has made a $300 million expansion project contingent on Amendment 2 passing. If Amendment 2 fails, the project could well be move to another state and jeopardize the Stowers’ long term goals.
The Stowers Institute has also formed the BioMed Valley Partnership, which includes a for-profit arm, BioMed Valley Discoveries Inc., set up to “patent, develop and market the discoveries of the Stowers Institute” and its partners to medical and pharmaceutical companies such as Merck or Pfizer. The BioMed Valley Partnership includes Kansas University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, whose researchers cede their intellectual property rights to BioMed Valley Discoveries in exchange for large endowments. Although Stowers officials claim that the conglomerate’s current business plan requires that profits be plowed back into Stowers Institute activities, this plan could be changed by its board of directors at any time. BioMed Valley Discoveries could go public at any time and possibly create billions of dollars in value, much of it generated by the tax dollars provided by Amendment 2 that would finance research at Stowers Institute. Stowers’ investment company could potentially be an early investor.
Virtually the same individuals serve as board members or officers in Stowers’ non-profit and for-profit entities. In fact, the IRS was reportedly wary of Stowers’ organizational structure several years ago. Also a concern for many is the almost $2 million in federal tax-payer grants that the Stowers Institute receives each year, which could potentially be used for harvesting human embryos after November 7th. Records indicate the Jim & Virginia Stowers have donated significantly to lawmakers sympathetic to his research.
Jim and Virginia Stowers are cancer survivors, visionaries and philanthropists. They both genuinely believe in the future of embryonic stem cell research.
But there’s also a lot of money riding on this Amendment 2. Voters in Missouri should be aware.
— Jesse Watters
Producer, "The O'Reilly Factor"