Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to be elected president. But shouldn't he know how to count before entering the White House? One would hope. But during the Republican primary debate, Perry acknowledged taking only $5,000 from Merck. Yet data compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics show the drugmaker's political action committee contributed $28,500 between 2002 and 2010.
His ties to Merck have been a flashpoint thanks to the controversy over the Gardasil vaccine, which was approved five years ago to protect against various strains of the human papillomavirus in girls and women ages 9 to 26. Policymakers welcomed the vaccine, since HPV can lead to cervical cancer, but social conservatives and some parents continue to worry that minors do not have the judgment needed to make an informed decision (see here). Gardasil has also been linked to side-effect reports (look here).
Perry waded into the flap at about the same time Merck launched a surreptitious marketing campaign to convince state officials around the country to support mandatory vaccination (read this). In early 2007, he bypassed the Texas legislature and signed an order making Texas the first state to require school-age girls to be vaccinated with Gardasil. And his former chief of staff, Mike Toomey, was one of three Merck lobbyists in Texas when he signed the order (read this).
The issue was dormant until Perry entered the presidential race. And he recently acknowledged that signing the order was a mistake (look here). But he only acknowledged accepting $5,000, a figure that had been widely reported since 2007. For instance, during the debate last night, he said "The company was Merck, and 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."
But records show that he accepted a total of $28,500. Is that enough for him to be offended? If you look here, you will see that Perry received $23,500 between 2004 and 2010, according to The National Institute On Money In State Politics. The web site also reveals another $5,000 that was contributed by the Merck political action committee during 2002 (please look here).
It is not clear why Perry is either not current on an issue that is front and center - whether or not he likes it - or why he may have difficulty counting money. But one hopes that, if elected, Perry will either learn to pay closer attention to issues that dog his decision making or that he brushes up on basic math, especially since he would likely face a deficit that continues to multiply exponentially by the second.