AG debate

John Adams (left), GOP nominee for attorney general, and Attorney General Mark R. Herring, a Democrat, shake hands after their debate.

State Attorney General Mark R. Herring is attacking GOP challenger John Adams in a TV ad over his defense of banks and corporations that get in trouble with the federal government.

The Adams campaign responded that Democrat Herring’s choice to go negative on TV prior to Labor Day shows Adams is doing something right.

The Herring ad mirrors attacks the attorney general levied when the two debated in Virginia Beach in June: that Adams is a white-collar criminal defense attorney protecting banks that break the law.

“John Adams — the best attorney general the powerful and well-connected can buy,” a voice in Herring’s ad says.

The ad singles out three cases Adams worked on. Adams is currently on a leave of absence during the campaign from his role as chair of the government investigations and white-collar litigation department at the Richmond firm McGuireWoods.

Among the cases was that of CommunityOne Bank, which in 2011 agreed to pay $400,000 in restitution to victims of a third-party Ponzi scheme that operated through accounts maintained at the bank, according to a Department of Justice news release.

The ad is the second TV ad from the Herring campaign; the first one focused on his late mother.

The Adams campaign noted that the attack ad came even before the first negative TV ad by either major party candidate in the governor’s race.

“It is obvious that the Herring campaign is panicked,” Adams campaign manager Nick Collette said in a news release.

A statement from Adams reads:

“Mark Herring is attacking me for being a good lawyer. In my professional career I have clerked for the Supreme Court, served as a federal prosecutor, been a lawyer for the president of the United States and defended people in need of help in private practice. I may be running for office for the first time but I know one thing: When the politicians start attacking me, I know I must be doing something right.”

The news release also noted that in one case in which Adams went up against Herring’s office, Adams represented an indigent defendant for free who had been assaulted in prison by another inmate.

“Adams prevailed, and Herring’s office was subsequently sanctioned in the case for misconduct. So much for only representing the ‘powerful,’” the Adams release said.

Herring was elected in 2013 and is seeking a second term. The election is Nov. 7.

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pwilson@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6061

Twitter: @patrickmwilson

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