Rick Perry's attempt as Texas governor to mandate human papillomavirus vaccines for sixth-grade girls has caused a lot of trouble for him in the 2012 presidential race and seems a strange campaign for someone so otherwise stringently conservative--until you take into account the financial link between Merck, the drug's maker, and Perry's own campaign. In Mother Jones, Kevin Drum outlined that link pretty succinctly in a post on Tuesday following up on his first argument that Perry wouldn't sell out for the paltry sum of $5,000.
But wait! I didn't have the whole story. It turns out it was more like $30,000.
And wait again! Over the past five years, it turns out that Merck gave over $350,000 to the Republican Governors Association, a period in which Perry was heavily involved with the group, and the RGA in turn gave $4 million to Rick Perry.
And wait some more! Merck's lobbyist on the vaccine issue was Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff. Toomey recently co-founded a super PAC that plans to raise over $50 million for Perry's campaign.
That is certainly a lot more tangled than a simple, single campaign donation, whether of $5,000 or $30,000. Perry looks to be walking into some even more sticky territory with this HPV thing simply as a campaign finance issue, beyond any policy debate about mandating the vaccine or allegations that the vaccine somehow causes retardation.