While Mark Herring Gave Staff Backdoor Pay Raises, Washington State Helped Fund Autism Screenings

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 Washington State did with the funds.

“Washington’s attorney general used the funds from the Abbott Laboratories settlement in the way they were intended – Mark Herring did not.” said Adams. “Herring decided to give selected staff backdoor pay raises through a completely unacceptable workaround of Department of Justice rules. Conversely, Washington State put over $2 million toward the treatment of schizophrenia, dementia, and autism for people in their state.”
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. 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.
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna put the money toward the treatment, medication or counseling of people with schizophrenia, dementia or autism.
Yesterday, Adams highlighted that North Carolina earmarked the money for public schools.
What Washington Did with the Money
Washington State’s Attorney General used the money for “direct treatment, medication or counseling to people suffering from schizophrenia, dementia or autism.”
“Working with other states, attorneys for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office have recovered more than $12 million through settlements with Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories, accused of illegally marketing an anti-seizure drug. The state will recover more than $10 million, split with the federal government, in a multi-state Medicaid fraud case against the company and more than $2 million from a consumer protection case. ... McKenna today announced Washington state joined 45 other states and the District of Columbia in a $100 million consumer protection settlement with the drug maker. Washington state’s share is $2,015,000. McKenna indicated to the court that settlement funds will be used to provide direct treatment, medication or counseling to people suffering from schizophrenia, dementia or autism. An open and competitive grant process for nonprofit organizations or agencies will be used to determine the recipients.” (Attorney General Rob McKenna, “Huge Seizure-Drug Settlements Recover $12 Million For Washington State,” Press Release, 5/7/12)
Because of this funding, autism screening and diagnosis was expanded under a grant to Children’s Village.
“Autism screening and diagnosis will be expanded under a grant to Children's Village. The $70,000 grant was secured through a competitive process in the state Attorney General's office. The source of the funds was a multi-state settlement with Abbott Laboratories, resolving improper marketing allegations surrounding the drug Depakote, which is used to treat various types of seizure disorders as well as manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder.” (“$70,000 Grant Will Expand Autism Screening,” Yakima Herald-Republic, 1/19/13)
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