The Man Behind The Vaccine Mystery
CBS Evening News
It’s been a mystery in Washington for weeks. Just before President
Bush signed the homeland security bill into law an unknown member of
Congress inserted a provision into the legislation that blocks lawsuits
against the maker of a controversial vaccine preservative called
“thimerosal,” used in vaccines that are given to children.
Drug giant Eli Lilly and Company makes thimerosal. It’s the mercury
in the preservative that many parents say causes autism in thousands of
children – like Mary Kate Kilpatrick.
Asked if she thinks her daughter is a victim of thimerosal, Mary
Kate’s mother, Kathy Kilpatrick, says, “I think autism is mercury
But nobody in Congress would admit to adding the provision, reports
CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta – until now.
House Majority Leader Dick Armey tells CBS News he did it to keep
vaccine-makers from going out of business under the weight of mounting
“I did it and I’m proud of it,” says Armey, R-Texas.
“It’s a matter of national security,” Armey says. “We need their
vaccines if the country is attacked with germ weapons.”
Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., isn’t buying it. The grandfather of an
autistic child, Burton says Armey slipped the provision in at the last
minute, too late for debate.
“And I said, ‘Who told you to put it in?'” He said, ‘No, they asked
me to do it at the White House.'”
Critics say the Bush family and the administration have too many
ties to Eli Lilly. There’s President Bush’s father, who sat on the company’s
board in the 1970’s; White House budget director Mitch Daniels, once an
Eli Lilly executive; and Eli Lilly CEO Sidney Taurel, who serves on the
president’s homeland security advisory council.
Officials at the drug giant insist they did nothing wrong. “No one,
not our CEO, not myself, not anyone who works with me asked the White
House to insert this legislation,” said Eli Lilly spokeswoman Debra Steelman.
But Kathy Kilpatrick and her husband Michael argue that the
thimerosal provision is not designed to protect the nation, but rather to protect Eli
Asked what he’d say to a congressman who came forward and admitted
he was responsible for inserting the provision, Michael Kilpatrick says, “I
would ask him if he knew he was protecting mercury being shot into our
Kathy Kilpatrick asks, “Why would anyone want to save Eli Lilly on
our children’s backs?”
Because Armey is retiring at the end of the year, some say the
outgoing majority leader is the perfect fall guy to take the heat and
shield the White House from embarrassment.
It’s a claim both the White house and Armey deny.