Opinion: Commentary: Nominate Mark Herring for Re-Election on June 8

The June 8 Democratic primary is an opportunity to vote for fairness and justice for everyone by supporting Attorney General Mark Herring. On that day, Virginians will select the Democratic Party’s nominees for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and several Delegates.

Republicans controlled the Attorney General’s Office for 28 years until Mark won in 2013. While many conservatives promote the Attorney General position as Virginia’s “chief prosecutor” and prioritize prosecuting cases, most criminal justice work is done by local Commonwealth’s Attorneys. Criminal justice work is a small fraction of the Attorney General office’s 400 attorneys and other staff’s work. Since taking office, Mark has grown the office and refocused it to help all Virginians instead of targeting the poor.

Mark has defended legal challenges against our firearm violence prevention laws like our one-gun-a-month law, “red flag” law and universal background checks. He issued an Attorney General’s opinion to block recognizing weak out-of-state concealed weapon permits. He also sued to block 3D printed “ghost guns” from hitting the streets.

He has defended attacks on the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing conditions rules after the Trump Administration refused to defend the law. Mark refused to defend Virginia’s constitutional prohibition on gay marriage. He sued to protect Planned Parenthood funding and has consistently defended a woman’s right to choose.

Just this past week, Mark came to Northern Virginia to discuss the status of his investigation of the American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) attempts to sell River Farm to a private owner. He stressed that he is prepared to use all options to enforce Virginia’s laws prohibiting improper use of restricted donations if AHS does the wrong thing.

He has won victories in court for DREAMers. He negotiated the largest environmental settlement in state history, secured $1.4 million in fines from Dominion for coal ash water dumping, and prioritized protecting the Bay. His Medicaid Fraud Unit has recovered over $1 billion for Virginia taxpayers.

Mark has been a leader on consumer protection. He created a Predatory Lending Unit to attack the loan sharks who set up shop up and down U.S. 1 until we passed legislation banning them in 2020. The unit also went after internet lenders like Allied Title Lending, Advance Financial, Opportunity Financial, Net Credit, Money Lion and Mr. Amazing who were charging their “customers” between 273% and 359% interest rates. He won settlements with Future Income Payments, a lender that targeted elderly and federal pensioners by structuring their loans as “pension sales” that charged up to 183% interest rates.

Mark has also negotiated settlements against pawnbrokers, pharmaceutical companies, unlicensed contractors, charity scams and robo-dial companies. Last year, he filed suit against predatory towing companies in Arlington. Last month, he secured $183 million in refunds for an online ticket seller that refused to refund consumers fees paid for events cancelled due to COVID-19.

Recently, Mark filed a groundbreaking suit against an immigrant bond intermediary that misrepresents its connection to the federal government and preys on desperate poor immigrants who cannot afford immigration bonds but who instead pay exorbitant fees for GPS ankle monitors that cost thousands of dollars.

Mark partnered with me and other legislators on criminal justice reform. He proactively established a Civil Rights Unit once the General Assembly gave him the authority that he requested in 2020 to authorize civil rights investigations after the Trump Department of Justice abandoned its responsibilities.

I know Mark’s opponent and have collaborated with him on legislation. He is a rising star in the House of Delegates. But when I partnered with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus to pass legislation to end predatory lending in 2020, he carried a troubling bill for the Online Lenders Alliance that would have green-lighted an 0.88% daily interest rate resulting in an APR of over 350%. I dedicated ten years of my legislative service towards ending that practice.

We need Mark Herring to continue the reforms and good work he has done to expand the focus of the Attorney General’s Office on more than criminal justice to many problems Virginians face. I hope that all Virginians will join me in re-electing him to a third term on June 8 or by voting early.

Please email me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any feedback.

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