Mark Herring Gave Staff Backdoor Pay Raises; Florida Funded Consumer Protection Efforts

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 Florida did with the funds.

“In Mark Herring, we have an attorney general who found an unacceptable workaround to DOJ rules to give selected staff in the attorney general’s office, including his former campaign manager, backdoor pay raises,” said Adams. “Meanwhile, Florida used the money from this settlement to fund future consumer protection efforts. Florida used the money for good. Herring used the money to reward certain staff members.”
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.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi put the money toward consumer protection efforts.
What Florida Did with the Money
Florida allocated money from the settlement with Abbott Laboratories to fund future consumer protection efforts.
“Florida will receive $5 million of a $100 million settlement with Abbott Laboratories over allegations of illegal off-label marketing of the drug Depakote. The $5 million will go toward future consumer protection efforts, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a written statement. Bondi and attorney generals from 44 other states alleged Abbott engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in marketing Depakote for off-label uses.” (“Florida To Receive $5M From Abbott Laboratories Settlement,” Tampa Bay Business Journal, 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