TX-GOV: Back to Basics PAC Launches New TV Ad About Rick Perry's HPV Vaccine

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Update – Here's a full dossier on HPV

The Back to Basics PAC continued its on-air challenge to Governor Rick Perry with a new ad, titled, “Why?” Jason Embry is reporting there is $850,000 behind the ad.

The HPV issue is one we covered back in 2007, first with a story about how Rick Perry was sued for ordering students to take the vaccine:

This story broke first on BOR, thanks to the site Courthouse News: “Governor Sued For Ordering Students To Get HPV Vaccine” —

Parents of three girls have sued Gov. Rick Perry to protect their daughters from inoculation with a vaccine against human papilloma virus, which causes cervical cancer. The John Doe parents claims Perry signed an illegal executive order that requires girls in sixth grade and above to be vaccinated before they can enroll in public school. Perry's Feb. 2 order caused a furor among conservatives, some of whom say that inoculating girls against the sexually transmitted virus will encourage them to have sex. Critics also say the order violates the state's “abstinence only” sex education policy. And they claim Perry was influenced by a $5,000 political donation from Merck, which makes the vaccine. And they claim the governor does not have authority to issue such an order, bypassing the Legislature.

Todd Hill also wrote a post at the time, titled, “I Won't Stand With Rick Perry.” He said it well in 2007 — I'll let him say it again today:

Executive decision making without the advice and consent of the legislative branch of government is dangerous precedent to set.  Especially when it includes essentially using your power as governor to play the role of a father for millions of Texas parents and their children.  How far are Texans willing to go in allowing state or federal government to make such personal decisions as individual child healthcare?  Are we really that gullible to allow this much government intervention into personal decision making?


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. justathought on

    facts in the video are exaggerated.
    Let me first state that I was appalled at the way Perry handled the HPV vaccine back in 2007, so I'm not by any means in support of that.

    But some facts are exaggerated. First, the $260,000 figure used in the video in relation to Toomey is what he POTENTIALLY made if it had gone through, he pocketed somewhere between 25k-50k…not that it justifies it. Any money involved is still awful, except this helps justify the case that the video may be deceptive in nature.

    In addition, I'm curious about the fact that Back to Basics is primarily funded by a personal injury lawfirm, who would be significantly impacted by the tort reform measures passed under Perry. Almost seems like sour grapes to me.  

    • In response on behalf of Back To Basics PAC

      Here is our full statement in response:

      “”We believe it's important to show the full amount Toomey has been paid over the years. Money is money, and the fact is Toomey was and still is a highly paid lobbyist for Merck.

      To correct the record: the actual total Toomey could have been paid by Merck and its subsidiaries is as high as $525,000, not $260,000 as stated, which is actually the minimum.

      The Perry-Toomey deal was in the works well before Perry's mandate, Executive Order-RP65, was released. And here's something else worth noting. Toomey's pay from Merck shot up to anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 during the last two months of 2009. What's coming up in the next legislative session? The next review to decide whether to require the vaccine for school enrollment.

      We at Back to Basics believe these are facts Texas parents deserve to know.”

      The $260,000 is the low range of numbers reported by Mike Toomey from 2006-2010 during the Merck campaign for the Gardasil vaccine. The high range of numbers amounted to $525,000 in that same time period. We have also linked our dossier, which includes the full lobbying reports submitted to the Texas Ethics Commission:


      Noelle Bell

      Director of New Media

      Back To Basics PAC



  2. bah
    As someone who's lost several women to cervical cancer, this is one of the VERY few things I'm glad Perry did.

    Yeah, yeah, money for Merck, BAD, whatever. It saves lives.

    • I have mixed feelings
      Mandating the vaccine was probably good public policy in 2007, and will certainly be a good idea within a couple of years, as the vaccine is both better tested (hence safer) and cheaper. It's very much a legitimate function of government to protect public health by mandating vaccines– not just the health of the girls who get the vaccine, but of the people they might otherwise infect.

      But that doesn't mean that the governor should be making that sort of decision unilaterally, with extremely little public input. Perry tried to do something beneficial, but he did it for all the wrong reasons and he abused his authority to do it.

      So I'll keep sitting on the fence. I'm not going to cheer for an ad that blasts Perry's decision to save lives, but I'm not about to cheer for the way Perry handled the case, either.  

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