Human Exceptionalism

Does James Stowers Have a Vested Interest in Passage of Amendment 2?

In radio interviews and my writing, I have decried the power of Stowers money in promoting Amendment 2. Billionaire and altruistic endower of the Stowers Institute, a medical research facility, James Stowers has personally paid for almost all the initiative campaign’s $28 million dollar budget. “My joke has been: What do you get the billionaire who has everything? Why, his own state constitutional amendment.”

When asked if Mr. Stowers is “in this” for the money, I have always said that I thought it to be an unfair charge. He’s a billionaire and a philanthropist. How much more money does he need?

But now, it is being reported that Stowers-controlled private companies could benefit substantially from the passage of Amendment 2. This, is being reported on-line by Fox News:

“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.”

That’s good reporting, and the voters have a right to know this information. (Where is the KC Star on this?) I still think the Stowers believe they are doing the right thing from an altruistic perspective. But it may also be that they hope to do well by doing good.

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