Perry walks back his HPV vaccine stance

Rick Perry has reversed his stance on the HPV vaccine mandate he attempted to impose on Texas 6th grade girls through an executive order in 2007. Perry went on the WHO radio at the Iowa State Fair and claimed,“[T]he fact of the matter is, I didn't do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry."

His statement is timely, to say the least.

Perry’s history with the HPV mandate has been turbulent, with suspicious relationships within the pharmaceutical industry to surprising conservative backlash. Now, with his eye on the presidency, Perry has finally admitted that he “made a mistake."

And that he did, according to his conservative base. The decision caused an enormous political backlash within his own supporters that considered the executive order government intrusion into a family decision.

The executive order was eventually overturned by the Texas Legislature.

So why would Rick Perry sign this executive order so unpopular within his own political base?  The answer may be in his relationship with Merck & Co (the pharmaceutical company responsible for creating the HPV vaccine GARDASIL) and the advocacy organization Women in Government.

[Merck & Co.] doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and funneled cash through advocacy organization Women in Government, the Associated Press reported. Perry’s former chief of staff and co-founder of a pro-Perry SuperPAC Mike Toomey served as one of Merck’s three lobbyists in Texas. Toomey’s mother-in-law served as state director for Women in Government at the time. A high-ranking official from the company’s vaccine division sits on the group’s business council, the AP reported. Finally, Perry himself was the recipient of $6,000 from the pharmaceutical company’s PAC while campaigning for reelection.

Source: American Independent

Here is the timeline that we know:

  1. During this time Rick Perry’s former Chief of Staff and creator of a pro-Perry SuperPAC Mike Toomey lobbied for Merck & Co., creator of the HPV vaccine GARDASIL.
  2. During this time Rick Perry’s mother-in-law served as state director for Women in Government.
  3. Merck & Co funneled money through Women in Government.
  4. On February 2, 2006 Rick Perry signed an executive order mandating HPV vaccination for sixth grade girls beginning in September 2008.
  5. On October 16, 2006 Perry's Chief of Staff Deidre Delisi and aides discussed GARDASIL according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.
  6. That same day that Merck & Co’s PAC donated $5,000 to Perry's campaign and $5,000 total to eight Texas lawmakers.
  7. The executive order was overturned by the Texas Legislature.

That was back in 2007. Yet all of a sudden, he now feels that he made a mistake, a very opportunistic approach to sweeping one of his most controversial (and self-proclaimed) mistakes under the rug.

For more information on Rick Perry’s and HPV vaccine mandate checkout this American Independent story.