Karl Racine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Karl Racine
Karl Racine.jpg
Attorney General of the District of Columbia
Assumed office
January 2, 2015
Mayor Muriel Bowser
Preceded by Irvin Nathan
Personal details
Born 1963 (age 54–55)
Political party Democratic
Education University of Pennsylvania (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)

Karl A. Racine (born 1963) is the first ever independently elected attorney general of the District of Columbia, a position he has held since January 2015.[1] Prior to his election, he was the managing partner of Venable LLP.[2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Haiti, Racine and his family fled the Duvalier regime and emigrated to Washington, D.C. when he was three years old.[5] He attended public schools until eighth grade and graduated from St. John's College High School,[5] and was star high school basketball player.[4]

Racine attended the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia School of Law, where he worked at a pro bono clinic representing migrant farm workers.[2][5] He said he was drawn to the law because of the role lawyers played in advancing civil rights.[5] While in law school, he and his mother produced the first Haitian Creole/English legal dictionary, intended to aid Haitian immigrants to the United States.[2]

Legal career[edit]

After graduating from law school in 1989, Racine joined Venable LLP but left in 1992 to become a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.[2][4] He then returned to private practice at Cacheris & Treanor, where he handled large white-collar and civil cases,[2] and later served as associate White House counsel in the Clinton administration.[2][6] In addition, he served as a member of the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission,[7] a selection panel for judges. Racine returned to Venable in 2000 and was elected managing partner in 2006, becoming the first black managing partner of a top-100 law firm.[2][4][6]

He led the team representing food services corporation Sodexo in a class action racial discrimination suit brought by over 2,500 African American employees, one of the largest such suits brought after the 1991 amendments to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[8][9]

From 2011 to 2012, Racine represented D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who pleaded guilty after a protracted investigation to diverting $300,000 in grants earmarked for charity and youth baseball groups to pay for personal luxury items.[10] During sentencing, Racine successfully argued that Thomas deserved a lighter sentence because his guilty plea was an example of his commitment to teaching the District's youth how to "take responsibility when you have done wrong."[3][4][11] Racine later said Thomas "needed counsel to represent him zealously" and told possible critics, "I would represent them if, God forbid, they made significant mistakes, errors and violated the law."[4]

In July 2014, Racine led an inquest into state-issued credit card spending by members of the Board of Education in Montgomery County, Maryland, finding no evidence of intentional wrongdoing but recommending that access to the cards be revoked.[12][13][14]

Campaign for Attorney General[edit]

In July 2014, Racine announced his candidacy for D.C. Attorney General, prompting friend and fellow prominent white-collar attorney Mark Tuohey to drop out of the race and endorse him, saying he "has all the qualifications."[3][4][15]

As of August 12, Racine's campaign had raised $256,955, more than any of the 4 other candidates for Attorney General.[16][17] Notably, the bulk of his funding came from loans and contributions made by Racine himself, totaling $225,000.[16][17]

On August 28, Washingtonian magazine reported that three anonymous staff members at the Office of the Attorney General had filed complaints with the D.C. Board of Elections alleging two OAG employees, including Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, had violated the Hatch Act by promoting Racine's campaign at work.[18] According to the complaints, Nathan "praised and recommended Karl Racine, and he asked us to support him" during two meetings on July 9, before Racine had declared he would run for office.[18] In an interview, Racine stated that "Nathan did not recruit" him "to run for the attorney generalship" and that he would have no reason to believe that Nathan would conduct himself in any other way than "appropriately [and] ethically."[19]

Media sources have characterized Racine as the candidate who reflects the legal establishment.[4][20][21] If elected, Racine said he would act with greater independence from the Mayor and the D.C. Council.[19][20] He supports Attorney General Irvin Nathan's argument that the D.C. budget autonomy act violates the District of Columbia Home Rule Act.[20] Racine has released a 12-page policy platform called "Keys to Justice."[22][23]

Racine initially expressed disapproval of the initiative to legalize marijuana in August, saying that it "is going to take a bit more time for the community to get its head around,"[19] but had apparently reversed his position by late September, "enthusiastically" supporting legalization in a debate.[24] The Washington City Paper suggested Racine flip-flopped after a poll showed nearly two thirds of D.C. residents were supportive of marijuana legalization.[25][26]

Racine has been endorsed by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler,[27] SEIU Local 722,[28] D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans,[29] and The Washington Post,[30] which cited the "unique ... depth and range" of his qualifications and his "rich record of community service."

Racine had raised an additional $407,736 by the October 10 reporting deadline, more than any other candidate, with $225,000 of that total from a second personal loan from Racine to his campaign.[31] One week after the reporting deadline, on October 17, fellow candidate Edward "Smitty" Smith filed a request for investigation with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, alleging that Racine's failure to list occupation information for 266 individual contributors and employer information for all 390 individual contributors in the report constituted an "intentional and illegal" breach of the Campaign Finance Act of 2011.[32] Racine's campaign attributed the missing information to "a botched fundraising database transfer" and promised to amend the report.[32]

On October 22 and 23, the Washington City Paper and the Washington Post ran a series of articles on a slate of audits that found Venable had improperly documented expenses charged to the Troubled Asset Relief Program and overcharged the D.C. government, including the Office of the Attorney General, by hundreds of thousands of dollars while Racine was the managing partner of the firm.[33][34][35] At a press conference the next day, opponent Lorie Masters criticized Racine for overbilling and his allegedly "cozy" relationship with embattled D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray.[34][35]

On November 4, 2014, Racine was elected Attorney General for the District of Columbia with 36% of the vote.[36][37]

Attorney General[edit]

In March 2015, it was reported that Racine had still not paid himself back the money he had loaned his campaign. He was continuing to take donations, raising the possibility of a conflict of interest.[38]

In November 2015, Racine said that he was sensitive to the public outcry over Mayor Bowser's FreshPAC, which was created to accept unlimited campaign contributions thanks to a loophole. Racine continued to fundraise to pay off his $451,000 campaign debt from sources that might have business before the District.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Racine served as a board member of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia,[40] as a member of the steering committee of the Whitman-Walker Clinic's Legal Services Program[41] and as a board member of the local literacy organization Everybody Wins.[42]

He has also been active in aiding his native Haiti, raising $125,000 from Venable's lawyers, staff, and foundation to support relief efforts after the 2010 Haiti earthquake[43] and raising money for the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP).[44]

Racine lives in Logan Circle.[6][45]


  1. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees; DeBonis, Mike (2014-11-04). "Karl Racine wins first-ever race for D.C. attorney general". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-09-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Leadership Council on Legal Diversity". Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Report: Defense Lawyers Swap Places in Attorney General Race". Washington City Paper. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Karl A. Racine and Lateefah Williams enter race for D.C. attorney general". Washington Post. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "An Interview with Karl Racine". Bisnow.com. 5 July 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Former D.C. Councilman Sentenced to 38 Months in Prison for Embezzlement". Bizjournals.com. 3 March 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "New Lawyer Named to D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission". The Blog of Legal Times. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Food Services Firm Sodexho Settles Bias Case". NPR. 28 April 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Karl A. Racine, Esquire". Judicial Nomination Commission. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Former D.C. Councilman Sentenced to 38 Months in Prison for Embezzlement". Legal Times. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "So Long Harry!". Washington City Paper. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "Firm investigates questionable spending by Montgomery Co. school board members". FOX 5 D.C. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "Montgomery County school board members give up credit cards". Gazette.net. 30 July 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Board of Education Spent $112,569 in One Month on Law Firm Reviewing Credit Card Expenditures". Bethesda Magazine. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Candidates Work the Revolving Door in District's Attorney General Race". Washington City Paper. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Attorney General Candidates Dig Into Their Own Pockets". Washington City Paper. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Muriel Bowser expands fundraising advantage over D.C. mayoral rivals". Washington Post. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "DC's Attorney General Jumps Into a Race He Didn't Want". Washingtonian magazine. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c "The Kojo Nnamdi Show: The Politics Hour: Transcript, August 29, 2014". WAMU. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c "Attorney General Independence Looms at Candidate Forum". Washington City Paper. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  21. ^ "Tight Race for D.C. Attorney General". Afro-American. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  22. ^ "Keys to Justice: Unlocking Fairness for Everyone in Our City" (PDF). VoteKarlRacine.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  23. ^ DeBonis, Mike. "DCision '14 potpourri: Catania wins Sierra Club nod; AG candidates hit the mail". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  24. ^ "At Debate, D.C. Attorney General Hopefuls Fight To Woo The Many Undecided Voters". WAMU. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  25. ^ "Marijuana Wins Over Karl Racine". Washington City Paper. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  26. ^ "Poll: D.C. voters poised to legalize pot, elevating national debate over marijuana". The Washington Post. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  27. ^ "Maryland's Doug Gansler Endorses Karl Racine for Attorney General". Washington City Paper. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  28. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: SEIU Local 722 Endorses Karl Racine for DC Attorney General". VoteKarlRacine.com. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  29. ^ "Councilmembers Make Their Attorney General Picks". Washington City Paper. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  30. ^ "Karl Racine for D.C. attorney general". The Washington Post. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  31. ^ "Racine Puts in Another $225K to Lead Attorney General's Race Fundraising". Washington City Paper. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  32. ^ a b "Attorney General Candidate Wants Investigation of Rival's Fundraising". Washington City Paper. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  33. ^ "Karl's In Charge: Audits Question Bills from Attorney General Candidate's Law Firm". Washington City Paper. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  34. ^ a b "Attorney General Candidate Masters Holds Press Conference to Slam Rivals Zukerberg, Racine". Washington City Paper. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  35. ^ a b "Audits critical of candidate Karl Racine's firm roil D.C. attorney general race". The Washington Post. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  36. ^ https://www.dcboee.org/election_info/election_results/2014/November-4-General-Election
  37. ^ "Karl Racine wins first-ever race for D.C. attorney general". Washington Post. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  38. ^ "Checkbooks and Balances: The Campaign's Over But Racine and Bowser Are Still Taking Money". Washington City Paper. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  39. ^ Sommer, Will (20 November 2015). "Karl Racine Has Campaign Finance Issues of His Own". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  40. ^ "21st Annual Servant of Justice Dinner Program" (PDF). Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  41. ^ "From Whitman-Walker Clinic's Legal Services Program: February 2010". Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  42. ^ "Legal Celebs Turn Out for Everybody Wins". Bisnow.com. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  43. ^ "For Venable's Karl Racine, Haiti Fundraising Was Personal". The Blog of Legal Times. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  44. ^ "Summer 2008 HELP Update" (PDF). Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  45. ^ "DC Coast Chef Jeff Tunks and Ex-Redskin Fred Smoot Move House". NPR. 4 February 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Irvin Nathan
Attorney General of the District of Columbia