RICHMOND – John Adams, the Republican nominee for attorney general, continued “What Mark did with the Money” today, highlighting what Mark Herring did with money from a settlement with Abbott Laboratories versus what Hawaii did with the funds.
“The way Mark Herring went about giving his staff backdoor pay raises is completely unacceptable,” said Adams. “The funds, which were a result of a settlement with Abbott Laboratories, were used by other states for public good. Hawaii, for example, used the money to fund consumer protection. Mark Herring decided to use the money to reward certain members of his staff.”
Herring found a workaround to use the money, which is generally prohibited from being used for salaries, to give 16 employees in the attorney general’s office raises of over 20% at a time when state employee salaries were stagnant. He also gave raises to his former campaign manager, as well as a former lobbyist who, prior to joining the Attorney General's office, "schmoozed lawmakers and regulators for corporate clients" according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, Herring’s attorney general’s office and Department of Law increased its payroll by nearly $2 million, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s salary database.
Hawaii used the money to fund future consumer protection actions.
What Hawaii Did with the Money
Hawaii used the $1.2 Million from a settlement with Abbott Laboratories to fund consumer protection actions.
“Hawaii will receive $1.2 million of a $100 million civil settlement against Abbott Laboratories Inc. over allegations that the global health care company marketed a prescription drug for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the state Office of Consumer Protection said Monday. The state said the money will go into a fund for consumer protection actions.” (“Hawaii Shares In $100M Drug Settlement,” Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 5/8/12)
What Mark Did with the Money
Mark Herring gave pay raises to selected employees in the Office of the Attorney General by diverting asset forfeiture money from the Abbott Settlement.
“Law enforcement agencies participating in investigations with federal counterparts can share proceeds of seized assets under Equitable Sharing programs run by the Justice and Treasury departments. Both agencies have clear rules that generally prohibit the use of such money for salaries and pay raises. However, the Justice Department suggested a workaround in a PowerPoint presentation obtained from the office of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring after the AP raised questions about significant pay raises for several of Herring's employees at a time when state workers' pay was stagnant elsewhere. Some staff attorneys' salaries rose as much as $15,000 in a year — one had a 30-percent increase.” (Associated Press, 1/18/17)
What Other States Did with the Money
- North Carolina earmarked almost $1 million to public schools
- Washington State put the money toward the treatment, medication or counseling of people with schizophrenia, dementia or autism
- Florida funded consumer protection efforts
- Massachusetts put the money toward programs that lower health care costs for residents
- Iowa funded consumer education
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