Mark Herring Gave Staff Backdoor Pay Raises; North Carolina Gave the Money to Schools

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 other states involved in the settlement, including North Carolina, did with the funds.

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 more than 20% at a time when state employee salaries were stagnant. 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.

Conversely, former North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper earmarked the money for the state’s public schools.

“Mark Herring found a completely unacceptable workaround to use money from a Medicaid fraud case to give selected staff backdoor pay raises while other states put the money to education, health care, and consumer protection,” said Adams. “This is money that should have gone back to the state, not to reward staff members with pay raises. North Carolina's attorney general recognized this, and earmarked almost $1 million to the state's public schools.”
What North Carolina Did with the Money
North Carolina earmarked the money for public schools
“North Carolina has recovered $15.8 million from Abbott Laboratories as part of a national fraud settlement involving the drug Depakote, state Attorney General Roy Cooper announced last week. The funds are part of a $1.5 billion national settlement to resolve allegations that Abbott illegally marketed Depakote. Depakote is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat seizures and mania associated with bipolar disorder and to prevent migraines. Cooper and other states involved in the settlement contend that from January 1998-Dec. 31, 2008, Abbott promoted Depakote for uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective. This resulted in false claims to Medicaid and other taxpayer-funded health care programs. Of the $15.8 million recovered from Abbott, $917,553.61 will go to the state’s public schools. The remaining funds will go to support Medicaid efforts in the state.” (WSOCTV, 10/8/12)
What Mark Did with the Money
According to the Associated Press, Herring’s office 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)