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Venable Partner Brian Schwalb Wins DC Attorney General’s Race

June 22, 2022, 11:06 AM

Venable’s Brian Schwalb won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for District of Columbia attorney general, topping two rivals, including a fellow Big Law partner.

Schwalb, manager of Venable’s Washington office, won 45 percent of the vote, finishing ahead of Perkins Coie’s Bruce Spiva, who had 36 percent, and solo practitioner Ryan Jones with 18 percent, according to the DC Board of Elections.

A fourth candidate, city council member Kenyan McDuffie, ended his campaign in May after the Board of Elections ruled he didn’t meet the qualifications for the job.

With DC being a heavily Democratic city, Schwalb will likely prevail in the general election and become the second Big Law partner to hold the DC attorney general job since citizens voted to make the position elected starting with the 2014 races.

Karl Racine, who also practiced at Venable, won the attorney general job in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018.

A trial attorney, Schwalb has represented clients including Oracle Corp. and parties pro bono in police misconduct cases. He told the Washington Post his experience trying complex cases and negotiating with parties would help him perform the attorney general role.

Schwalb earlier in his career spent four years as a Justice Department tax division trial attorney during Bill Clinton’s presidency. After a stint at a smaller firm, he joined Venable in 2005, and he was the firm’s vice chairman before being named partner in charge of the Washington office in 2016.

Schwalb, who worked with Racine for nearly a decade at Venable, said he would follow Racine’s approach on initiatives such as increasing accessibility to affordable housing.

Racine indicated early this year that he plans to return to the private sector. He filed a lawsuit against the Trump presidential inaugural committee alleging more than $1 million in nonprofit funds had gone missing. The matter settled in May with a $750,000 payment to the District of Columbia.

Also in May, Racine sued Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, alleging that Zuckerberg failed to protect user data.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Olson at egolson1@gmail.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com