Jansing and Co   |  September 12, 2011

Perry's connection to drug maker in spotlight

NBC News' Michael Isikoff discusses Rick Perry making a 2007 executive order mandating that teenage girls be vaccinated to prevent cervical cancer. Apparently, Perry has ties to the company that manufactured the vaccine.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> democrats are preparing a new line of attack against republican candidate rick perry . as texas governor in 2007 , perry signed an executive order requiring all girls in the state to be vaccinated against cervical cancer . a new investigation finds there is a financial connection between the governor and the maker of the vaccine. michael issikoff is the national investigative correspondent for nbc news. michael , good morning. what did you find out?

>> good morning, chris. well, what we found is there's a little more to that controversy over that vaccination order that governor perry signed that came up in the republican date last week. you may remember a couple of perry 's rivals, senator santorum and congresswoman bachmann, criticized him over the issue of financial issues. what didn't come up is that merck, the manufacturer of the vaccine that was covered by the order, has just hired mike toomey who was governor perry 's former chief of staff as its lobbyist in austin. and it paid $16,000, it paid mr. toomey somewhere between $260,000 and $535,000 over a four-year period, and it also made $16,000 in campaign contributions to governor perry in the 2 1/2 years before he signed that order. so this is what fueled the controversy in texas and led to the texas legislature overriding governor perry 's executive order . although it didn't come up in the debate last week. i talked to a number of democratic operatives last week who said front and center this will be a main line of attack again governor perry should he become the nominee.

>> yeah, we're already hear something of it. let me play the comments of a couple of republican like, as you mentioned michael .

>> it is wrong for government whether it's state or federal government to impose on parents what they must do to iinoculate their children.

>> i would expect this from president obama . i would expect this from someone calling himself a conservative governor.

>> it is fair to say this is out of character for a conservative republican .

>> right. exactly that's why the financial times which i mentioned do stand out because it's not something you would have expected governor perry to do. and you know, then when you see the other part of the story that mike toomey , his close political confidante was the lobbiest for the drug company , fits more into what critic say is part of a pattern in governor perry 's administration. and that is what they call crony capitalism. i should point out, governor perry has defended himself on this, although he has apologized for the executive order and said he didn't do it in the right way, his goal of to save lives in texas.

>> yeah. he said he would always err on the side of saving lives. we'll see how big a campaign issue this become. michael isikoff , thank you.

>> thank you, chris.