Putting his own politics before Virginia

Mark Herring has repeatedly ignored the laws of Virginia, turned against the state’s laws, or advocated a position opposite. That’s because he’s a career politician who puts his own political agenda ahead of the laws passed by the people of Virginia through their elected representatives. Virginia needs a new lawyer – one who will enforce and defend its laws.


Just a couple examples of Mark Herring putting his own politics before Virginia:

  • Gun Reciprocity

    In December 2015, Mark Herring ended Virginia’s concealed carry permit reciprocity with 25 other states. The move was so out of line that Herring’s own governor, Terry McAuliffe, reversed this decision just weeks later. 1

  • Backdoor Pay Raises

    When Mark Herring came into office, he was left with millions from a Medicaid fraud settlement with Abbott Laboratories. Herring found a workaround to DOJ rules to use the money to give selected members of his staff, including his former campaign manager, backdoor pay raises. Other states involved in the settlement put the money toward public education, health care, and consumer protection. 2

  • DACA

    In a unilateral move, Mark Herring overreached when he issued an opinion allowing thousands of illegal aliens enrolled at Virginia universities to pay in-state tuition. This grossly exceeds the authority of the attorney general. 3

  • Right to Work

    In an attempt to undercut Virginia’s decades old Right to Work law, Mark Herring signed onto a brief to the Supreme Court calling for collective bargaining rights for employees in California. This is active opposition of Virginia law, and a complete failure to defend the law of the state. 4

Gun Reciprocity

1Herring’s Political Maneuver Undercut by McAuliffe in Gun Reciprocity Deal

In the closing days of the 2013 attorney general’s race, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC launched a $1 million ad campaign in support of Mark Herring. Bloomberg also gave $25,000 to Herring’s state senate campaign in 2011.

Then, in December of 2015, Mark Herring ended Virginia’s reciprocity with 25 other states for concealed-carry permit holders. In doing so, he was called out by numerous editorial boards for a move that was overly political. When questioned, Herring couldn’t point to a single crime committed by out of state concealed-carry permit holders.

Just weeks later, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a bipartisan deal with Virginia House leadership to re-instate Virginia’s reciprocity agreement. Mark Herring was not part of the negotiations and was absent from the press conference announcing the deal.

On Mark Herring’s Decision to End Virginia’s Reciprocity with 25 States

“Virginia Won’t Recognize Concealed Handgun Permits From 25 States, Herring Says”
“‘In his announcement, the Attorney General has not pointed to a single crime committed by an out-of-state concealed weapons permit holder legally carrying in Virginia under the reciprocityagreement; not one,’ said a statement from GOP state Sen. Mark Obenshain, whom Herring narrowly defeated for attorney general in 2013. ‘Indeed, the State Police concede that they are not aware of any either.’ Virginia law allows the state police superintendent to determine whether other states meet the requirements for such permits to be recognized, Herring said.” (The Virginian-Pilot, 12/22/15)

Editorial: Payback time on guns
“Second, with regard to guns, state Democrats owe some big favors. New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg and his gun-control group, Everytown for Gun Safety, have spent more than $2.7 million to elect Virginia Democrats in recent years. McAuliffe and Herring would surely like to keep the money coming. Hence their efforts to roll back the rights of gun owners. Those efforts will have no effect on crime — but at least they will keep Bloomberg happy.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/26/15)

Editorial: Herring Misfires
No empirical data suggest that Virginia has a problem with concealed-carriers from other states, but that hardly deterred the attorney general, whose rationale for action was both rich and spurious: When it comes to concealed-carry permits, Virginia simply is stricter, does it better, than other states. As the Richmond Times-Dispatch observed, this is quite a departure from standard Democratic reasoning relative to other issues: Virginia is lagging behind, so it must take steps to keep up with the other governmental Joneses. Pure baloney.” (Daily News-Record, 12/31/15)

Editorial: Is a Utah concealed-carry permit pointless?
“Herring’s zeal for enforcing Virginia law has been rather selective, and it’s not clear what he hopes to gain from his maneuver on concealed-weapons permits – especially given Virginia’s open-carry permissiveness. Agree or disagree with it, though, you can’t deny it has been educational.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/9/16)

Column: McAuliffe, State On Target With Concealed-Carry Compromise
“Case in point: Days before Christmas, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that Virginia was terminating concealed- carry reciprocity agreements with 25 states that had laws he believed were less strict than the commonwealth’s. The heavy-handed move was ill-advised and unnecessarily provocative. Worse, it reeked of politics. Herring’s office was unable to point to a single bad act committed by a person in possession of an out-of-state concealed- carry permit.” (The Virginian-Pilot, 2/3/16)

Herring’s decision was praised  by Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Group

‘When states recognize carry permits from other states with weaker laws they put themselves at the mercy of those weaker laws — it’s why we have fought hard against the NRA’s attempts to push a federal reciprocity bill through Congress. Once again, leaders in the states are doing their part to stand up to gun lobby interests and I applaud Attorney General Herring for protecting Virginians and demanding that any state that wishes to have their permit recognized in Virginia has to have the same strong standards for concealed carry as the Commonwealth.’” (Everytown.org, 12/22/15)

But, Mark Herring was quickly undermined by his own governor, Terry McAuliffe, who undid this decision just weeks later. Herring was not part of the negotiations and was absent from the press conference.

 “Gov. McAuliffe, Republicans find rare accord on gun policy”
“In a surprising show of compromise, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the Republican speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates will come together Friday to formally announce a deal on gun policies that the leaders in both parties are applauding. The agreement, which McAuliffe and Republicans have been hammering out for weeks, strengthens some gun control measures while reversing a policy that would have invalidated concealed handgun permits in Virginia held by residents of 25 other states. McAuliffe and Speaker William J. Howell plan to outline the deal during a news conference Friday.” (Associated Press, 1/29/16

“’Gift to the Gun Lobby’ Decried”
Herring was conspicuously absent from a bipartisan event heralding the deal. The governor’s office told him that it was in the works about a week ago and kept him updated on negotiations, but Herring was not involved, his spokesman Michael Kelly said.” (The Washington Post, 1/30/16)

Editorial: Herring the Activist AG
“And he created quite a kerfuffle last December when he cancelled Virginia’s reciprocityagreements on concealed-weapons permits with a number of other states. That led to a bipartisan deal between Gov. Terry McAuliffe and state lawmakers reversing Herring’s edict.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/3/16)

Backdoor Pay Raises

2Mark Herring gave selected staff in his office backdoor pay raises – including 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 – using funds received from a Medicaid fraud investigation into Abbott Laboratories.

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. And Herring’s former lobbyist received a nearly 10% bump in his compensation. 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. Other states earmarked the money for public schools, to lower health care costs, or fund consumer protection.

What Mark Herring 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)

Herring’s office provided raises of more than 20% to 16 employees, including 15 assistant attorneys general.

  • Between 2014-2015 And 2015-2016, Herring’s office reported grow pay increases of more than 20% to 16 employees, including 15 assistant attorneys general. (Richmond Times-Dispatch Salary Database)

He also gave a raise to his former campaign manager who now serves as his chief of staff, as well as a former lobbyist who “schmoozed lawmakers.”

  • From 2014-2015, John Daniel’s compensation increased from $128,000 to $140,560, a 9.8% increase. (Richmond Times-Dispatch Salary Database)
  • “…teamed with John Daniel, a glib grayhair in the Office of the Attorney General who’s served governors and schmoozed lawmakers and regulators for corporate clients.” (Richmond Times Dispatch6/27/15)
  • From 2014-2015 to 2015-2016, Kevin O’Holleran’s compensation increased from $105,000 to $109,242, a 4.04% increase. (Richmond Times-Dispatch Salary Database)

The Richmond Times-Dispatch criticized Herring for “Policing for Profit.”
“When it comes to policing for profit, no one is immune from temptation. Just ask Attorney General Mark Herring. The knock against the practice – sometimes called ‘civil asset forfeiture’ – has been clear and simple for many years: Allowing law-enforcement agencies to confiscate people’s personal property without even filing criminal charges, let alone obtaining a conviction, violates the nation’s bedrock principles regarding justice. What’s more, allowing law-enforcement agencies to keep and spend the proceeds of such seizures gives them an overwhelming incentive to further abuse an already abusive system.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/22/17)

The Virginia Senate recommended cutting $500,000 from Herring’s budget after the report about the raises.
“In other budget news, the Senate is recommending cutting $500,000 from Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring’s office. The move comes after The Associated Press reported last month that Herring was able to give sizeable raises – as much as $15,000 in a year – with the indirect help of asset forfeiture funds. Herring raised the pay floor for 64 attorneys, with a median raise of about $7,000.” (Associated Press, 2/5/17)


3Mark Herring joined AGs from states like California, New York, and Rhode Island in signing a letter to President Trump asking him to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – a program instituted through executive action by President Obama. Mark Herring used DACA, itself federal overreach, to issue an opinion saying that DACA students were able to pay in-state tuition at Virginia universities.

“John Adams believes that one of the core functions of government is keeping Virginia’s families, children, and communities safe – and it will be a priority as attorney general. Mark Herring issued an opinion contrary to Virginia state law and grossly exceed his authority as Attorney General, allowing thousands of illegal aliens to pay in-state tuition at our college and universities. Herring relied on DACA – itself an executive overreach – in issuing his opinion so it is no surprise that he would want to see that federal executive action continued, but the people paying the price are the taxpayers and those children legally in our country and residing in Virginia who compete for limited in-state slots at many of our state universities. The General Assembly should make such decisions and not the Attorney General.”

Right to Work

4Statement of John Adams on Mark Herring’s Opposition of Right to WorkLaw

RICHMOND – John Adams, Republican nominee for attorney general, issued the following statement today regarding recent attacks on Virginia’s right to work law:

“Just last week, in a race to the left, Tom Perriello called for an end to Virginia’s right to work law and Ralph Northam essentially said he would do the same once he had a Democratic legislature. And maybe nobody believes that Virginia Democrats would abandon a law that for 70 years has guided Virginia’s employees and economy allowing for the freedom to work in Virginia without having to join a union. But Mark Herring is already using his office to actively oppose right to work even if he can’t stop it in Virginia. Herring was one of only two attorneys general from right to work states at the time to sign onto a brief to the Supreme Court calling for collective bargaining rights for employees in California. That’s our activist attorney general attempting to oppose a law that has received overwhelming support in Virginia.”

The brief mentioned above is a 2015 brief that Mark Herring signed onto in the case of Rebecca Friedrichs, et al., v. California Teachers Association, et al., arguing that:

Abood acknowledged that public-sector unionization was controversial as a policy matter and that there was widespread debate and disagreement about the application of private-sector models to public-sector labor relations. Id.at 224-25, 229. Partly for that reason, Abood deferred to state judgments about appropriate measures for effective state and local government labor relations.”

Paid for by Republican Attorneys General Association; Authorized by John Adams for Virginia