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 Massachusetts did with the funds.
“State after state involved in the Abbott Laboratories settlement gave the settlement funds back to their state, earmarking it for public good,” said Adams. “Take Massachusetts for example, which put the money toward programs to lower health care costs. But here in Virginia, Mark Herring decided to find a workaround to DOJ rules and use the money to give selected staff in his office, including his former campaign manager, backdoor pay raises.”
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.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley put the money toward programs that lower health care costs for residents.
What Massachusetts Did with the Money
Massachusetts earmarked nearly $2 million for programs that “lower health care costs” for residents, combat “unlawful marketing practices in the health care market,” or “otherwise benefit health care consumers in Massachusetts.”
“Under this separate consumer protection settlement, Abbott Laboratories will pay the states an additional $100 million including approximately $2 million to the Commonwealth. The consent judgment detailing violations to the state consumer protection statute through the illegal marketing of Depakote was filed today in Suffolk Superior Court along with the AG’s complaint. Approximately $100,000 from the settlement will pay for attorneys’ fees and investigative costs while the remaining funds will pay for programs that lower health care costs for Massachusetts residents, combat unlawful marketing practices in the health care market, or otherwise benefit health care consumers in Massachusetts.” (Attorney General Martha Coakley, “AG Coakley Reaches Two Multi-State Settlements With Abbott Laboratories Worth Nearly $900 Million,” Press Release, 5/7/12)
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
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