Loose Lips

Attorney General Candidates Dig Into Their Own Pockets

Karl Racine

The District's first race for an elected attorney general is ripe for self-funding: a newly created position with shifting powers, limited to people in a frequently lucrative profession, all compressed into a shortened fundraising period.

Maybe it's no surprise, then, that when it came to financing their own ambitions, the District's five attorney general candidates didn't disappoint. Below, the highlights from the latest campaign finance reports, which run from June 11 to Aug. 10.

Karl Racine

Raised: $256,955. Spent: $15,000. Cash on hand: $241,955.

LL figured that Racine, a longtime partner at Venable LLP, was rich. But who thought he was this rich? Since entering the race in July, Racine has pumped $225,000 in contributions or loans into his campaign. To put that in perspective, recent prominently self-financed bids from restaurateur Andy Shallal and furniture magnate Pete Ross still didn't approach this kind of cash—and all in one reporting period!

Not counting his own contributions, Racine raised $31,955. Apparently he's a thoughtful co-worker—other employees at Venable made $21,375 in contributions.

Edward "Smitty" Smith

Raised: $186,163.10. Spent: $34,072.36. Cash on hand: $152,090.74.

The 34-year-old Smith, who'd really prefer that you call him "Smitty," contributed a comparatively humble $11,057.20 to his own campaign, plus $4,000 for office rent. That leaves him with a nearly $100,000 cash deficit on Racine, but Smith can also point to more success at fundraising outside of his own checkbook, raising $175,105.90 from other donors.

Smith's donors include go-to Democratic lawyer Donald Dinan ($1,500), Ward 8 politico Jacque Patterson ($25), DC Vote executive director Kimberly Perry ($250), and Lyft ridesharing exec Bakari Brock ($1,000).

With former Jack Evans campaign manager Josh Brown advising the campaign, LL had some deja vu reading the expense portion of Smith's finance report.

Anti-violence activist and one-time Evans campaign worker Jauhar Abraham's company received $4,307 from Smith's campaign. Abraham's new gig should be thrilling news for the District's Office of the Attorney General, which recently won a judgment of more than $600,000 against him.

Paul Zukerberg

Raised: $61,596.78. Spent: $17,209.25. Cash on hand: $46,854.95.  

The O.G. A.G. hopeful, Zukerberg survived court challenges and Office of Campaign Finance orders to stop campaigning and has finally started raising money in earnest. Among his donors: Republican activist Nelson Rimensnyder ($75), Ward 3 education gadfly Matthew Frumin ($250), at-large D.C. Council Brian Hart ($25).

Zukerberg, his wife, and their businesses contributed a combined $5,525.  Zukerberg's pro bono lawyer Gary Thompson, apparently not content with getting the entire race on the ballot, gave his client $500.

Lorie Masters

Raised: $51,560.00. Spent: $6,998.98. Cash on hand: $44,561.02.

Masters, a board member at good government group DC Appleseed, kicked in $26,500 of her own funds.

Lateefah Williams

Raised: $9,685.28. Spent: $598.00. Cash on hand: $9,087.28.

Conveniently for LL's theme, Williams contributed to her campaign, too. Less conveniently for her dreams of winning office, it wasn't all that much: just a $598 loan.

Flickr photo by user Thisisbossi used under a Creative Commons license

  • Ward 5 Democrat

    Racine is too out of touch to get elected. I like Smitty, he is saying the right things. I think he will be a man of the people. Everyone else isn't going to win.

  • DC Guy

    How long have each of these candidates been in the race versus how much did they raise?

    Smitty and Racine have very questionable contributors. This race should be more like a judgeship. The idea that all of these companies, law firms and current DC AG attornies!!!! are contributing to this race is incredibly unseemly.

    As to Ms. Williams, out of the 10 k she raised, only a handful were DC residents. It is also hard to understand how a union gadfly is qualified to even run for the AG. Doesn't one need to, you know, practice law?

  • Robert Vinson Brannum

    With this article does Mr. Sommer favor the men AG candidates over the female AG candidates?

    rbrannum@robertbrannum.com
    @robert158

  • are you in third grade, alan?

    what a sorry piece. "oh, these candidates loaned themselves some money!" "look, here are some names i recognized!" thanks. most children can recognize names and a few can even notice patterns.

    serious reporting might delve into the real issues. where does racine get that cash? is he going to fundraise? what conflicts of interest are there between peaceoholics and smith? where is smith getting the rest of his money? ah, but its so much easier just to bold a few names.

    lame, will. suggest spending time on your homework, maybe even forgoing recess.

  • Anon

    Is this the same douchey Josh Brown who said that his strategy is to make "this city to look like it barfed up Jack Evans"? Clearly, Smitty is choosing great staff.

  • REALDC

    So this Racine guy has raised only about $10,000 outside of his law firm and his own bank account?? LOL, another self-absorbed rich dude trying to run for a public office with "cash" and little else! Has he ever held elected office in DC? Community service? Did he take a position when the DC Council and Mayor tried to NOT have an AG election this year? Who is he? Ok, he is a partner with Venerable. Does anybody know him outside of his firm? (Not according to his donations.)

    Self-aggrandizing folks is not what this city needs. Mr. Raccine, please stay at Venerable and make your money!

    This election should go to Zukerburg for fighting the "good fight"! He has work for this and he has done MORE than these "johnny" come lately candidates.

    NONE OF THESE FOLKS STOOD UP AND FOUGHT TO HAVE THIS ELECTION! NOT ONE!! NO COURAGE! NO CHARACTER!

    Zukerburg has EARNED it and has "fought" for IT!!

    Btw- He is the reason DC decriminalized marijuana ....because he had the COURAGE to speak up against the injustice that the marijuana convictions were doing to the African-American youth. Ruining their future over a "joint".... Zukerburg showed LEADERSHIP!! Again.

    Go Zukerburg!! DC deserves an AG that will FIGHT!!! Not "Richie Rich" Racine or "Shorty" Smitty, because they have friends in the "bourgeois" class in DC. The "Burgey" set in DC "sucks"......they never take care of the "people".... never fight for what is right unless its popular.... never risk "their" a$$.... never go out of their way for anybody unless they can benefit.... and are the biggest punks when it comes to standing up for Black folks unless their is a clear path that will benefit them..... but they will play the "race card" when they are around their peers and when "race" can benefit them...."support a brother, support a sister"....etc. They are fooling no one anymore! DC will vote for the best candidate for AG and Mayor. DC is NOT voting on "skin color" because that is not in the best interest of African-Americans in DC.

    I'm NOT part of Zukerburg's campaign but that guy has EARNED it!

  • shocked…not

    REALDC

    I agree with most of your sentiments. I don't know much about the candidates except for Lateefah and she is a stand up person and pretty genuine. However, I do have to give some credit to Zuckerberg for what he has publicly done to get the AG on the ballot.

  • tony

    Black leadership is and always will be very important and relevant!

    THE NEXT MAYOR OF THIS CITY SHOULD BE AND WILL BE BLACK.

    “Smitty” will represent his hometown with greatness as its new Attorney General.

    AT-LARGE RACE:
    Ellissa Silverman will win. The biggest upset will be Robert White defeating Anita Bonds.

    HEAR ME WELL: David Catania will NEVER be Mayor of this city.

    And to that, I say, good riddance!

  • citydude

    Ellissa Silverman will not win. She is a shrill...Kishin Putta will win. he has been working hard as ANC head and is Harvard Law Graduate and Kennedy school of Int. Stu. Great stand up guy. He knows all of Obamacare as worked with VP Biden...

  • Will Sommer

    @3rd Grade

    I'm not convinced that my inability to produce an expose on Racine within 10 hours of his report dropping is really a problem. Still, good point that Smitty has hired a guy who's being pursued by the same office that Smitty hopes to run.

  • Ward7Future

    I am going with Smitty. He is supporting the issues I care about and will ensure ALL THE PEOPLE of this great city have fair and competent legal representation.

    Karl Racine, does not have the support of the people. He is a rich, shady defense attorney. All his support came from his Law Firm.

  • ward 5 resident

    I agree with the comments made my realdc, Zukerberg has earned the right to be the next Attorney General for the District of Columbia. He was the one who fought for the residents to have the opportunity to vote for an attorney general on the November ballot. D.C. residents we owe it to him. Please get out and vote for Zukerberg. He is genuinely concerned about African Americans and will represent this city honest and fair. Karl Racine has not done one thing for this city. He has been in his law firm making money for his own family. Karl will be just another corrupt politician who supported Harry Thomas, Jr. D.C. residents let's support Zukerberg and he will help end all this corruption in this city. He will be the type of Attorney General that will make us proud. Thank you for listening.

  • tony

    Let me be clear.

    The campaign to decriminalize marijuana was NEVER intended to benefit the African-American community. In fact that effort was sponsored and financed by outside forces to benefit the new WHITE YUPPIES in this city who want to smoke their pot without harassment from the cops.

    The white organizers of that campaign used the black community as a marketing tool to gain citywide support for their effort. They argued that their effort was an attempt to fight some sort of social injustice suffered by blacks arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana. In fact, this was not their intent. They used the black community and "played" with real and serious issues confronting the black community for their own political benefit. IT WAS A GAME! IT WAS A TRICK!

    It’s just amazing that there are blacks in this city who have fought their entire freaking lives for black folks on different levels and never get the KUDOS and recognition that Zuckerman is given for doing far less.

    They are the real “fighters” who devoted most of their time and meager resources to make a “real” difference in this city.

    And, indeed, they are the ones who helped to produce the next Attorney General of D.C.—“Smitty”.

  • REALDC

    @tony- LOL. What are you smoking?

    You are DEAD wrong on Zukerberg and his issue to decriminalize marijuana. He was a defense attorney who defended numerous African Americans in the city because of DC's laws against folks caught with weed. His support for decriminalization was REAL and genuine.

    I respect and love your "pro-black" view but GET REAL, dude. Our black leaders have screwed us over more times than I care to mention. So your blanket support of Black leadership in DC is flawed. Personally, I'm tired of the "shyt" sandwich they tend to give out and call it "the best they can do"! See Bowser's record. Or better, I love when she says, "she is down at the Wilson Building working hard for the residents of DC"....... ok, Bowser, if you say so!

    Bowser has had ONE committee meeting in her 19 months as the Chair of Housing. Thats ONE meeting!! Meanwhile, kids are missing from DC General. No OVER SIGHT from Bowser but she is working HARD?? Ok, Tony. But since she is Black, she should be MAYOR??? GTFOH!!! No thanks, their are 400 homeless kids at DC General and BOWSER HAS DONE NOTHING to help. Oh yeah, most of the folks at DC General and Park Southern are.... yep, Tony...BLACK!!

    Sorry leadership comes in all colors.... Bowser, the blind watch dog is just NOT good!! I am embarrassed by these multi generational, Black DC leaders.... she is a DO NOTHING!!

    Wake up Tony!!

    Ps- Please name these real fighters of DC?

  • AG RACE

    Smitty seems like a nice guy, but he does not have the experience. How do you qualify for the AG without every actually going to court and the majority of his work is in being an appointed administrator and not actually practicing law. He is just as unqualified as L. Williams.

    Looselips, do you plan on looking into the qualifications of the candidates? Smitty was barred in DC in 2007 then joined the Obama campaign...what experience does he really have?

  • tony

    @RealDC,

    NAW, you get REAL!

    I say it again: The campaign to decriminalize marijuana in this city was nothing more than an effort to benefit “new” white comers so that they could enjoy their BONGS without any harassment from the cops. Of course, they garnered support for that effort using the plight of young black men who were being arrested for possession of small amount of marijuana. Their “real” intent was never to bring any justice to a people who were subjected to the very same national drug laws that they supported. IT WAS A GAME! IT WAS A TRICK!

    In addition, Zuckerberg is not the only attorney is this city who represents young black men caught up in the system. For generations, black attorneys without any fanfare provided representation and advocacy for young black men. And never did they turn around and asked to be promoted to public office for their “genuine” service. WHERE’S YOU’RE THANKS FOR THEM. WHERE’S YOUR APPRECIATION FOR THEIR SERVICE!

    I stand by the notion that black representation is very important and relevant. I stand by the idea that black people would be better served under black leadership than any other. And I make no apology for that. The GAY community is organizing hard for David Catania merely because he’s GAY. Many of the young white professionals in this city is supporting Catania because he’s white. In fact, never in the history of this city have white voters voted in favor of a black candidate over an electable white candidate. NEVER.

    Of course, you can bash the black candidate. They always get bashed. But where’s the critique for Catania? What make him so bright and smart? Where’s his record when it comes to ex-offenders? Where’s his record when comes to the creation of small black businesses? Where’s his record when it comes to the expansion of affordable housing? Where’s his record when it comes to issues concerning senior citizens? Where’s his record when comes to economic development? Where’s his record when it comes to maintaining and increasing public safety? What has he done that has been so earth-shattering in nearly 17 fucking years in office to increase the quality of lives for ALL?

    So, you damn right, I believe in black representation with all its faults. You damn right, I will continue to fight for my own just as others do. Yeah, you damn right, I will always give the benefit of the doubt to a people who came across the sweet waters of the MOTHER LAND!

  • Concerned DCer

    I won't be voting for any rich folks trying to buy an elected position

  • dcbullcrap

    I will not be voting until I hear/see that someone will be looking/ investigating in DHCF/ Department Health Care Finance and all of its contracts within that agency. The Newly elected Mayor needs to clean house in that agency, ADRC and DYRS. All three of these agencies have questionable leadership and do the leaderships and top executives live in DC? Clean house in these District Agencies. All of the money that is going out of these three Agencies in contracts to MD and Virginia is unexcusable.

  • Sally

    Smitty is the one! He is intelligent and can run the the AG's office and make good decisions. He has leadership qualifications with a good legal background and enthusiasm. Zukerburg does not have the legal background for the the AG position. Zukerburg is not owed the position he always knew he would have to compete and the citizens need the person with better legal abilities.

  • AG RACE

    @Sally,

    How can you say Zukerberg does not have the background to be AG, but Smitty does? This makes absolutely no sense. The least qualified individuals in the race are Smitty and Lateefah. Smitty only meets the bare bones statutory requirements of the position. At least Zukerberg has gone to court and has actually argued a case before a judge, something Smitty lacks. Smitty has only done admin work for the feds and was only barred in 2007...give me a break.

    I dont know who I am supporting, but I want someone who is qualified and will have the respect of the attorneys that the AG will supervise.

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  • Jim

    Experience with admin management is much more relevant to the A.G. than having "gone before a judge". The O.A.G. is a large office--what kind of management experience do any of the candidates except Smitty and Racine have?

    I'm voting Smitty because he's not trying to buy this election the way Racine is and he's the only one talking about the issues important to the poorer wards.

    Zuk should stick to his weed crusade, it's clear he's much more invested in that than in being A.G.

  • Sally

    The AG manages the people who go to court. As Jim said Smitty's administrative experience with large groups is important and this is not the experience that Zuckerburg brings to the office. Zuckerburg has been doing small cases and that is a fine practice of law but not what the AG will be dealing with as criminal matters are not handled by this office. When Smitty got the DC Bar is not relevant but his legal education is relevant - Harvard Law speaks volumnes. Smitty understands he represents the people of DC and that is also what is important.

  • AG RACE

    WOW, legal education is more important than actual legal experience. The lack of experience is what is resonating with the legal community...even those with the Ivy League education. The AG does deal with criminal matters (excluding felonies and a few misd), including all crimes committed by juveniles. Actually practicing and litigating cases is very important! The AG makes the decision about what cases to litigate and experience goes a long way. If all OAG needs is a manager, why require an experienced attorney to run the agency?

    I think Smitty is a great candidate and I would probably vote for him if he was running for Council, but I cannot get over the hurdle that he truly lacks the experience needed to be an effective AG. It is not enough for me to like a candidate. I understand Smitty says he will represent the people of DC, but he has NEVER represented a client in any court proceeding. However, I think he stands a good chance at winning because most voters vote based on popularity and not on actual experience. I wish him the best and will not be devastated if he wins...but I sure hope he surrounds himself with people who have actually litigated cases.

  • REALDC

    @tony- Hilarious! Ask your candidate those same questions.

    As a matter of fact, ask all the candidates for Mayor these 2 questions. 1. What have you done for Black people? 2. What are you going to do for Black people?

    I will guarantee you will be shocked by the answers and from who those answers come from. That's REAL!

    But keep up your fight, Tony!!

  • tony

    @realdc,

    Don't worry, I will!

  • LFN

    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Lorie Masters, a lawyer who has done an enormous amount of good for the District.

    A partner at the firm Perkins Coie (often cited as one of the top women lawyers in the country), she has been active in the D.C. Bar and has served on the boards of directors of DC Vote, DC Appleseed Center For Law And Justice, DC Bar Foundation, Legal Aid Society of DC, and the Women's Bar Association Foundation.

    As a board member of D.C. Vote, Ms. Masters advocated for District voting rights and worked hard on the proposal to give DC a real voting seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. While the proposal didn't succeed, it did bring together a bi-partisan group of supporters on behalf of the District.

    As a board member of DC Appleseed, Ms. Masters was also behind the legislation to give DC budget autonomy, which is now under review by a federal appeals court. She is representing a group of lawyers who have filed a legal brief in support of the measure.

    Her main focus is on ethical issues in the DC government. She has also said that she would use the AG office to fight for pay equity and workplace diversity and to make compensation levels more transparent.

    Lorie Masters shouldn't be ignored, even if you support another candidate.

  • Really

    We need an independent AG with experience and integrity. Looking at the whole of this crew the only choices I see are the 2 ladies. Yet after narrowing it down and looking at their body of work I lean more towards voting for Lorie Masters.

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