search
Sections List
American Journal News

GOP gubernatorial candidate blasts opponent for holding opioid companies accountable

North Carolina Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson attacked Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein for winning over a billion dollars in restitution from pharmaceutical companies.

By Josh Israel - July 14, 2023
Share
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson arrives for a rally before announcing his candidacy for governor on April 22, 2023, at Ace Speedway in Elon, N.C.
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson arrives for a rally before announcing his candidacy for governor on April 22, 2023, at Ace Speedway in Elon, N.C. (Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP, File)

Republican North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who is currently seeking his party’s 2024 gubernatorial nomination, recently criticized North Carolina Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein for suing pharmaceutical companies over their role in the opioid crisis. Stein has helped North Carolina and other states receive billions of dollars from the industry to settle claims that companies knowingly profited from the misuse of their products.

Appearing at a July 8 New Hanover County Republican Party gala, Robinson said that a mother whose son died after using fentanyl had recently asked him how he’d address the issue:

I’m going to tell you what I intend to do. I don’t intend to do like our current attorney general did and sue the drug company. See, the drug company is not the one out here on the streets peddling the dope. The drug companies are not the ones to allow them to come over our border to bring it into your neighborhood and sell to your children illegally. You know who’s doing that? Drug gangs, gangs, uh, dope peddlers. When was the last time you saw Josh Stein going after some real dope gangs? When was the last time you saw him go after the fentanyl pushers that are coming across the border?

Medical experts say that pharmaceutical companies that sell opioids played a major role in the recent spike in addiction, and companies have admitted to breaking the law and knowingly profiting from addiction. In November 2020, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and violation of anti-fraud and anti-kickback laws. 

“Purdue admitted that it marketed and sold its dangerous opioid products to healthcare providers, even though it had reason to believe those providers were diverting them to abusers,” Rachael Honig, assistant U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, said in a Justice Department statement. “The company lied to the Drug Enforcement Administration about steps it had taken to prevent such diversion, fraudulently increasing the amount of its products it was permitted to sell. Purdue also paid kickbacks to providers to encourage them to prescribe even more of its products.”

Starting in 2017, Stein, like other state attorneys general of both parties, filed suit against manufacturers and distributors of opioids, alleging their illegal business practices fueled the crisis. In July 2021, Johnson & Johnson and three other companies agreed to a $26 billion national settlement, with $750 million going to North Carolina.

“It has to be used for harm reduction, to keep people alive until they get healthy and well,” Stein said when he announced the settlement, according to television station WTVDin Raleigh. “These funds represent hope, hope for people and hope that they can get treatment so they can live a life free of addiction.”

Stein and other prosecutors secured $1.6 billion in a February 2020 settlement with pharmaceutical manufacturer Mallinckrodt. In December 2022, Stein and 17 state attorneys general reached an $11 billion settlement with CVS and Walgreens.

According to the Associated Press, North Carolina’s total share of opioid settlements has exceeded $1 billion during Stein’s time in office.

In response to an American Independent Foundation inquiry, Robinson appeared to change his tune somewhat. “I never said drug companies weren’t responsible. I did say, however, that it is time to hold criminals accountable for their actions,” he said in a statement emailed by his director of communications. “We cannot just go after the drug companies to solve this issue. We must crack down on the drug violence that is rampant in our communities.”

Robinson is incorrect about Stein’s work addressing other aspects of the opioid epidemic.

As attorney general, Stein convened a law enforcement opioid task force and worked with legislators to introduce the 2018 HOPE Act “to strengthen law enforcement efforts to confront the opioid crisis.” It passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper that June.

This year, Stein called on state lawmakers to fund a fentanyl control unit within his office to help local prosecutors handle larger fentanyl-related cases. He also expanded the state crime lab’s drug chemistry and toxicology sections.

“In Buncombe County and across North Carolina, we have seen a sustained uptick in both overdose deaths and prosecutions of people responsible for bringing and selling fentanyl in our communities,” Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams said in a February press release. “I applaud the Attorney General’s efforts to deliver more resources to prosecute people engaged in trafficking fentanyl, reduce use, and save lives throughout our state.”

Robinson’s latest comments come as he has been the subject of national attention for his long history of racist, antisemitic, and anti-LGBTQ+ comments. In February 2018, he penned an attack on the film “Black Panther” because the title character was created by Stan Lee, whom he called “an agnostic Jew,” and “put to film by a satanic marxist. How can this trash, that was only created to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets, invoke any pride?” He received bipartisan condemnation in October 2021 for a sermon in which he referred to “transgenderism” and homosexuality as “filth.”

Robinson will face State Treasurer Dale Folwell and former Rep. Mark Walker in the GOP gubernatorial primary. The winner will likely face Stein, who is currently the only major Democratic candidate running to replace term-limited Gov. Cooper.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


AJ News
Get the latest news here first.

Tai News

Newsletter
Read More
Ken Paxton paid $2.3 million to defense lawyers for impeachment trial

Ken Paxton paid $2.3 million to defense lawyers for impeachment trial

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune - January 18, 2024
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Abortion advocates submit ballot issue affirming right to terminate pregnancy in Montana

Abortion advocates submit ballot issue affirming right to terminate pregnancy in Montana

By Nicole Girten - November 27, 2023
Companies facing legal action fill coffers of Kentucky Republican attorney general nominee

Companies facing legal action fill coffers of Kentucky Republican attorney general nominee

By Jesse Valentine - November 02, 2023
Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud trial set for April 15

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud trial set for April 15

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune - October 30, 2023
Republicans complain DOJ is funding campaign raising awareness about gun safety measures

Republicans complain DOJ is funding campaign raising awareness about gun safety measures

By Oliver Willis - July 27, 2023
AJ News
Latest
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

By Kyle Dunphey, Utah News Dispatch - February 21, 2024
Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

By Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024
Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024
Mark Robinson gun raffle raises campaign finance questions

Mark Robinson gun raffle raises campaign finance questions

By Jesse Valentine - February 16, 2024
Abortion care and transgender health care are ‘parallel struggles’ in 2024 legislation

Abortion care and transgender health care are ‘parallel struggles’ in 2024 legislation

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - February 16, 2024
Ohio Democrats introduce education bills for universal school meals, teacher pay raises

Ohio Democrats introduce education bills for universal school meals, teacher pay raises

By Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal - February 15, 2024