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We already know D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine is a big fan of California Sen. Kamala Harris, and why wouldn’t he be? As the District’s first elected attorney general who’s made a national name for himself by suing the president, Racine fits right in with Harris’ message.
It doesn’t hurt that Racine might see a path for himself to catapult to U.S. attorney general in a Harris administration, as he hinted in a Politico article earlier this year. In a recent conversation with LL, Racine doesn’t deny his interest in Bill Barr‘s job, but says he’s currently focused on finishing out his second and final term as the District’s AG.
But someone else who has largely avoided the limelight after playing a major role in D.C. politics some years ago is now also lining up behind Harris.
Former U.S. Attorney Ron Machen, along with Racine and other big wigs, are hosting a reception for Harris next Wednesday evening, according to an invitation forwarded to LL.
As U.S. attorney, Machen’s focus on public corruption netted guilty pleas from three sitting D.C. councilmembers and exposed a shadow campaign that helped put former Mayor Vince Gray in office in 2010. Machen’s announcement shortly before the 2014 Democratic primary that he’d secured a guilty plea from shadow financier Jeffrey Thompson killed Gray’s chances at re-election. Machen then resigned as U.S. attorney in 2015 without filing charges against Gray, and has since remained largely out of the public eye during his return to private practice.
Machen didn’t return LL’s calls, but in a phone interview today, Racine reiterated his support for Harris despite the criticism she’s received for her not-so-progressive record as a prosecutor and state attorney general in California.
As California’s AG, for example, Harris defended the state’s death penalty after a judge declared it unconstitutional. Yet, Harris is personally opposed to capital punishment, and as a district attorney in San Francisco, she declined to seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing a police officer.
Harris has also faced criticism for her support of a truancy law that resulted in the arrests of parents of children who missed too much school. On the campaign trail, Harris has said she regrets pushing for tough truancy penalties.
In explaining his support for Harris, Racine points to her efforts to collect and publicize data on in-custody deaths and arrest rates by race and ethnicity.
“I see her as a prosecutor and an AG who led in a way that other prosecutors were not with respect to maintaining and sharing data with the public,” Racine says, adding that his support for Harris involves regularly consulting with her team on policy and fund raising.
He describes their relationship as a “strong personal relationship and good professional relationship.”
Other than Racine and Machen, the invitation lists, as hosts, PR maven Ann Walker Marchant, Venable partner and District lobbyist Claude Bailey, business consultant Vincent Iweanoge, Roy Austin, a former top official in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Terry Jones, and CEO of Radio One, Alfred Liggins, who is gracious enough to offer up his home for the event. Tickets start at $1,000.