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On the Records: In Debate, Perry Understated His Merck Support

Rick Perry defended a $5,000 contribution from Merck at Monday night's debate, but according to campaign finance data from the Texas Ethics Commission, the governor's estimate of the drug company's support was on the low side.

Gov. Rick Perry listens to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's speech at an event in Waterloo, Iowa, on Aug. 14, 2011.

During the CNN/Tea Party debate Monday night, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota seized the opportunity to point out the connection between Gov. Rick Perry and the drug company Merck, which makes Gardasil, the vaccine that Perry's 2007 executive order would have mandated for Texas pre-teen girls.

Turns out estimates during the debate of how much Perry took from Merck were on the low side.

Bachmann tied the executive order to Merck and Perry’s former chief of staff Mike Toomey, who had lobbied for Merck in Texas, calling it "flat-out wrong" that a drug company gave "thousands of dollars" to Perry.

Perry confirmed a $5,000 campaign contribution from Merck, and defended it, saying he was offended at the suggestion that he could be bought for such a small amount when he had raised about $30 million.

According to a Tribune analysis of campaign finance data received from the Texas Ethics Commission, Perry underestimated. In the past 10 years, he has received $29,500 from Merck PAC, the political action committee for Merck employees, nearly six times more than Perry acknowledged on stage.

During the 2002 gubernatorial campaign, Merck PAC contributed $6,000 to Texans for Rick Perry. During the 2006 campaign — just before Perry issued his Gardasil order — Perry received another $16,000. And in the most recent campaign, Perry’s PAC got $7,500.

To view each contribution from Merck PAC, use the table below. To take a closer look at who has financed Perry from 2000-2011 and search for yourself, visit the Tribune’s searchable Perry campaign donor database.

Contributions from Merck PAC to Texans for Rick Perry, 2000-2011

DonorDonationLocationContribution Date
Merck PAC $1,000 Washington, DC 11/2/00
Merck PAC $5,000 Washington, DC 9/18/02
Merck PAC $10,000 Washington, DC 10/18/04
Merck PAC $1,000 Washington, DC 12/30/05
Merck PAC $5,000 Washington, DC 10/16/06
Merck PAC $2,500 Washington, DC 10/14/08
Merck PAC $5,000 Washington, DC 10/29/10

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