As the District of Columbia’s first elected attorney general, Karl Racine fights for D.C. residents every day. In his first term, Karl built an independent office, led the way on justice reform, cracked down on slumlords, stopped scammers, and stood up to the Trump administration. There’s still work to do, and that’s why Karl is running for re-election.
As the District’s chief prosecutor for juveniles, Karl is working to make D.C. safer for everyone – and working to ensure our young people are set up for success. As part of a new wave of elected prosecutors leading the way on criminal justice reform, Karl has implemented data-driven programs that are “smart on crime” instead of relying on outdated “tough-on-crime” strategies that failed to make communities safer and disproportionately affected the poor and people of color.
Karl will continue to make D.C. safer through innovation to prevent crime, solve underlying problems, and help young people succeed. He will:
- Continue to expand successful diversion programs for low-level juvenile offenders,
- Work with partners to develop effective supervision and rehabilitation for juveniles who commit more serious offenses,
- Bring targeted resources to neighborhoods that haven’t yet seen reductions in crime,
- Push for full implementation of the NEAR Act, which would bring a community-based, public health approach to reducing crime.
Karl knows that the affordable housing crisis is one of the most pressing problems facing the District, and he believes that people of all income levels should be able to call the District home. As attorney general, Karl has scored significant victories in protecting tenants, cracking down on slumlords and preserving affordable housing.
Karl will continue to level the playing field for tenants and hold abusive landlords accountable. He will:
- Work to expand enforcement of housing code and protections for tenants;
- Enforce commitments by developers to ensure communities get the resources and benefits they are promised;
- Inform District residents about their legal rights when it comes to housing conditions and rent control laws;
- Continue to work closely with tenants groups and nonprofits to solve problems and improve housing conditions across the city.
Karl works every day to ensure that no one takes advantage of D.C. residents. He established an Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) early in his term. In its first three years, the office stood up for vulnerable local residents – including immigrants, seniors, and students – and became a leader on national multistate consumer investigations. Under Karl, the office has helped strengthen District consumer protection and privacy laws, and secured more than $118 million in restitution and penalties for consumers and taxpayers.
Karl will build on the success of his consumer protection work by:
- Helping consumers stay safe in emerging areas like the sharing economy and social media;
- Protecting seniors from abuse and financial scams with stepped-up resources and outreach;
- Continuing to set consumer protection priorities and lead at the national level;
- Fighting efforts by the Trump administration and Congress to roll back regulations that protect student borrowers, seniors and other vulnerable consumers.
Karl has built a world-class legal team to uphold D.C. law, defend the District government and the services it provides to D.C. residents, and ensures that businesses in the city are operating to the benefit of District residents. Under his leadership, the OAG has saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in liabilities, helped negotiate deals that will save utility ratepayers millions of dollars, and fought to hold businesses accountable for the taxes they owe and the promises they make to District residents.
Karl will make sure that contracts and agreements with the city are in the best interests of District residents and that businesses won’t be able to walk away from their commitments without consequence.LEARN MORE
Karl believes all workers and their families should share in the growing prosperity of our region, and that workers must receive all the wages and benefits they earn. He has used the power of the government on behalf of vulnerable workers and against businesses that make their money by stealing from employees. As attorney general, Karl requested and was granted independent authority to investigate wage theft cases, and has exercised that independent authority to take action on behalf of workers.
Karl plans to continue to use his authority strategically to protect workers and deter bad actors. If investigations reveal employers have willfully committed serious violations, he will not hesitate to pursue criminal charges.LEARN MORE
As an immigrant who came to the District of Columbia from Haiti as a child, Karl understands the challenges immigrant communities face. When the Trump administration tried to force cities like D.C. to use our local police to enforce federal immigration laws, Karl pushed back. He knows that the District is safer when all residents, regardless of their immigration status, feel free to work with law enforcement or go to the police for help.
Karl will continue to advocate for District residents from around the world, and will work to make sure that our local law enforcement will never be used as a deportation force.LEARN MORE
Now more than ever, attorneys general are acting as a check and balance on harmful federal government actions, and are standing up for local residents and the rule of law. As attorney general, Karl has stepped up to protect District residents and our values at the national level.
Karl will use his increasing national profiles as co-chair of the Democratic Attorneys General Association and the Eastern regional chair of the National Association of Attorneys General to continue leading the fight against President Trump’s unconstitutional and undemocratic actions, and to place the concerns and values of District residents on the national stage.LEARN MORE
Under Karl’s leadership, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has found creative ways to reduce crime and put young people on the right path by:
- Increasing referrals to effective diversion programs,
- Starting a “restorative justice” program that resolves conflicts and aims to repair the harm caused by crime,
- Working to expand existing “treatment court” programs and support the creation of new ones, including programs focused on treating substance abuse and survivors of sex trafficking
- Piloted at Sousa Middle School a successful “I Belong Here” anti-truancy program
Since Karl took office, more than 2,000 young people who committed low-level offenses have been referred to the Department of Human Services’ Alternatives to Court Experience (ACE) diversion program. The ACE program provides intensive, individually-tailored services to young people, including therapy, anger management, substance abuse treatment and mentoring. Of those who completed the program, nearly 80 percent have not been rearrested.
In 2016, Karl launched the OAG’s Restorative Justice Program as an alternative to traditional prosecution. Restorative justice focuses on repairing harm and addressing the problems at the root of crime and conflict. The program brings those affected by crime together to hold offenders accountable, empower victims, create a plan for making things right, and monitor participants to ensure they follow through on the plan. Nationwide, statistics show that these programs rehabilitate offenders, lower costs and lead to victims being more satisfied. While other jurisdictions have implemented restorative justice programs, OAG is the first to do so in-house.
Karl is using all the legal tools available to:
- Bring enforcement actions against the worst slumlords, who have a pattern of violating housing codes and forcing tenants to live in unacceptable conditions.
- Secure relief for tenants, including court-appointed receivership, to make sure homes are safe and habitable, and to make necessary repairs.
- Secure restitution using consumer protection law, and getting abusive landlords to return the hard-earned money their tenants paid in rent.
So far, Karl and his staff have:
- Sued to ensure landlords at properties from Columbia Heights to Congress Heights are living up to their obligations;
- Forced notorious slumlord Sanford Capital to stop doing business in the District;
- Won restitution for tenants, including an average of $9,5000 for residents at the Terrace Manor complex, and continued to fight for restitution in other cases;
- Successfully defended the District’s inclusionary zoning program, which is designed to increase the supply of affordable housing;
- Sued landlords who were skirting the District’s rent control laws, either by operating illegal hotels in rent-controlled apartments or through misrepresenting prices via so-called “rent concessions.”
As Attorney General, Karl has worked to protect local consumers in many ways, including by:
- Shutting down predatory lenders and fraudulent debt relief companies;
- Stopping scammers who prey on immigrants and strengthening the District’s laws against a type of scam known as “notario fraud”;
- Ensuring companies are protecting consumer data, and taking action when data breaches occurred;
- Taking action against predatory for-profit colleges and abusive student loan practices;
- Protecting grieving families from being defrauded by unlicensed and unscrupulous funeral home operators;
- Empowering local consumers by creating a library of resources to educate them about their rights and about warning signs for common types of scams.
As attorney general, Karl has:
- Helped other city agencies and community groups win an agreement with Alta Gas, which is merging with WGL Holdings (owner of Washington Gas), that commits the company to a two-year rate freeze and investments in jobs for underserved D.C. residents.
- Secured an agreement with Pepco that changed a planned rate increase to a rate cut that shared the benefits of the recent corporate tax cut with ratepayers
- Obtained for the city $1.3 million from Walmart to settle claims resulting from Walmart’s decision to abandon its commitment to the Skyland Town Center project.
In order to protect workers, Karl is:
- Working to recover wages stolen from them by abusive employers. For example, Karl recently obtained back wages for 18 workers at a D.C. KFC franchise;
- Suing to recover damages for workers of up to three times the amount of the wages they were owed, making it very costly for employers to break the law;
- Investigating employers in a wide variety of industries, including in health care, construction and hospitality;
- Informing workers about their rights under the law and about how to take action if those rights are violated.
As Attorney General, Karl has:
- Joined lawsuits to end Trump’s discriminatory Muslim ban and to protect the DACA program for immigrants brought to this country as children,
- Worked to preserve D.C.’s sanctuary city status and led a coalition of 11 state attorneys general to defend sanctuary cities from the Trump administration’s threats to cut important public safety funding.
- Provided guidance about how to support District families amid heightened fears related to immigration enforcement.
Karl has pushed back against President Trump by:
- Fighting corruption and enforcing the Constitution by filing suit against President Trump for violating the emoluments clause;
- Protecting local immigrant communities, fighting the Muslim ban and standing up for DREAMers;
- Fighting rollbacks of environmental regulations, including efforts to weaken the Clean Water Rule, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Power Plan;
- Promoting smart, data-driven public safety strategies locally, despite Trump’s opposition to criminal justice reform;
- Defending women’s health and reproductive rights, civil rights for communities of color, federal consumer protection programs and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and LGBTQ Americans from Trump’s efforts to dismantle protections and turn back the clock.