Texas HPV Vaccination Emails Nearly Devoid of Perry

And the HPV thing was kind of his signature issue for a while

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Politico's Ben Smith just posted a sheaf of emails between Texas officials discussing that state's controversial 2007 law mandating vaccination for human papillomavirus. That's been a sticky issue for Governor Rick Perry, who authorized the legislation, which conservative critics said would encourage promiscuity. On Tuesday, Perry reversed his stance, calling the legislation a "mistake," and agreeing with the Texas legislature's decision to reverse it. The emails Politico received via a Public Information Act request include almost none to or from Perry.

And the email cache offers outsiders a bit of insight into how Perry's operation works, and to one particularly striking fact: Perry himself was almost entirely absent from the implementation of this key decision. His own emails appear in only one thread in the entire 700 page cache: On February 6, 2007, as the initiative was rolling out, he received a supportive email from a friend, which he forwarded to his wife, Anita, under the headying, "fyi."

Anita Perry responded, "Tammy Cotten Hartnett told me at lunch today that she would help you with some conservative groups," referring to a prominent Dallas Republican.

Perry then forwarded the thread to his deputy chief of staff, Kathy Walt "Fwd to the correct folks in the office."

The story goes on to point out that very little of Perry's decision-making can be seen in the documents, but his staffers shine. "They are combative and engaged and, contrary to Perry's public strategy of ignoring the press and even skipping editorial board meetings in his last campaign, they read the clips." The original emails themselves, about 700 pages of them, are a big dig, but Ben Smith did pull some choice staff comments to the front, and they're worth a look.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.