Perry's History of Brushing Off Campaign Corruption Charges

Money-in-politics complaints aren't sticking to Rick Perry

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Michele Bachmann finally scored some points on Perry by attacking him on the vaccine issue. Perry insisted he only got $5,000 from Merck -- and that he was "offended" that he could be bought at such a low price. But reports show Perry actually got $30,000 from Merck -- and that the Republican Governors Association got $300,000 while Perry was working closely with the group. Still, Bachmann's charge seemed to resonate more with the Tea Party crowd when she was playing up the teen sex and parental consent angles, not the corruption one.

Perry says that when he issued an executive order mandating that middle school girls be vaccinated against HPV, which can cause cervical cancer, he was trying to save lives. But Michele Bachmann -- and some reporters -- say he was really trying to give kickbacks to a campaign contributor. Unfortunately for Perry, the charge neatly lines up with his reputation for handsomely rewarding donors and for his being rewarded in return. Wednesday, for example, the Austin-American Statesman's R.G. Ratcliffe reports that while Perry's wife, Anita, was working for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, the nonprofit had 37 major donors -- and 34 of them had ties to Perry and Texas state business. Last month, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Aman Batheja reported that the Perrys -- of humble cotton farming roots -- became millionaires while he was in office. But so what? Money in politics has long been a big issue for Democrats. Republicans have a history of not really caring all that much about it.

The attack has been tried against Perry in the past. When popular Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson ran against Perry last year, she portrayed him as corrupt -- and lost. In the 2006 midterm elections that gave Democrats a majority in Congress, corruption was a major issue most voters, but less so for Republicans. Then, 45 percent of Republicans said the issue was extremely important, compared to 54 percent of Democrats. In 2008, the issue was extremely important to 37 percent of Republicans, compared to 43 percent of Democrats. This year, the economy is far more important to voters than concern with corruption in government. And the issue of the economy is where Perry shines.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.