Mark Herring’s Misplaced Priorities

Washington, D.C. – The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) released the following statement on Mark Herring’s misplaced priorities.

“Mark Herring had an opportunity to help his constituents with Virginia’s portion of fraud settlement funds,” said RAGA Executive Director Scott Will. “Instead of following the example of others, including his fellow Democratic Attorneys General in North Carolina and Washington, Herring decided to give his taxpayer funded staff huge raises. Virginia needs an attorney general with better judgment and priorities.”

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 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)

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