Reality Check: Gov. Rick Perry has closer ties to drug maker Merck than he admits

Published: Sep. 15, 2011 at 3:32 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2011 at 10:17 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(FOX19) - The issue in question, a 2007 executive order by Governor Rick Perry that would require all public school girls, as young as 11 and 12 years old receive a vaccination for HPV.

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer.

Perry's order allowed parents to opt out but for millions of people in Texas, that was not enough.  The governor had gone to far.  During Tuesday's debate Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann went after the Governor over the issue.

"I just wanted to add that we cannot forget that in the midst of this executive order there is a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate.  We can't deny that."  said Bachmann.

So what is the truth here?

The drug company Merck,  created the Gardasil vaccine for young girls.  The company was making a serious effort across the country in 2006 and 2007 to get state legislatures across to require vaccinations for young girls.

Merck doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

Gov. Perry admitted that he has taken contributions from Merck but pointed out that they were not large contributions.

"It was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them.  I raise about $30 million.  And if you're saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I'm offended."  said Perry.

So, what is true here and what is not.

Congresswoman Bachmann is correct that Mike Toomey, who served in the Texas House with Perry and later served as the Governor's Chief of Staff was the chief lobbyist for Merck when that executive order was signed by the governor.

As for the claim that Merck has given a $5,000 dollar contribution to the governor's campaign, that is true, but not the whole story.

Perry also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during a different re-election campaign.

Texas Ethics Commission records show he has accepted $29,500 from the Merck PAC during his entire tenure as governor, $22,000 of it prior to his 2007 order.

Toomey himself, has contributed more than $48,000 to Texans for Rick Perry during his decade in office.

Texans for public justice reported Tuesday that Merck has contributed $377,500 to the republican governor's association PAC since 2006 - the year that perry became heavily involved in the organization.

The RGA is Perry's largest contributor, at $4 million during his tenure as governor.

Here's what you need to know:

Governor Perry has the right to take those campaign donations.  But the problem comes when Governor Perry stands up on national television and gives a contribution number that is 5 times less than the accurate one.

Then, doesn't come out to explain himself.

If he simply mis-spoke his campaign should have immediately released the correct numbers instead of waiting for journalists to dig it up.

This is a Presidential campaign and the information is going to come out, the only thing the governor can control is who puts it out there first.

And that is Reality Check.

Additional Sources:

Copyright 2011 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.