Council Oversight: Delivering for District Residents

Dear Fellow Washingtonians,

Yesterday, I testified in front of the DC Council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee for the Office of Attorney General’s annual performance oversight hearing. Oversight hearings are an important part of serving as an elected official, and this hearing was a chance to talk with the Council and DC residents about our work delivering for Washingtonians and making the District a safer, healthier, and more equitable place for all who live and work here.

At the center of OAG’s work is accountability: for youth who victimize others by committing crime, for landlords that neglect deplorable housing conditions, and for businesses that harm consumers, pollute the environment, and steal workers’ wages.

And we strive to carry that accountability through three areas of focus that thread our work together. First: enhancing public safety. As the District’s chief law officer, including its chief juvenile justice prosecutor, making our city safer is our highest priority. Second: advancing economic opportunity. We work to narrow inequities and create safe, healthy places for District residents and their families to grow and thrive. And third: providing top-notch legal services to protect the District’s interests, save taxpayer dollars, and enhance the effectiveness of the District government.

Under District law, we are charged with representing, advising, and defending the District, as well as advancing and protecting the public interest. Our daily work is varied and impactful and is mostly done without fanfare or publicity. I am proud of all we’ve accomplished over the past year, and am looking forward to continuing to deliver for you all in the coming months and years.

With gratitude,  
Brian L. Schwalb 
Attorney General for the District of Columbia

Celebrating Black History

Recognizing the District's Black History

Happy Black History Month! In DC, we know that District history is Black history.

Far too often, Black history is ignored, forgotten, or erased. And while I thoroughly enjoyed my time this month out in the community, learning about and honoring the District’s Black history, I hope you’ll join me in committing to celebrating this history not just this month, but every day of the year.

At OAG, we use the law to fight for equity and justice for every member of our community. This includes fighting to preserve safe and habitable housing; enforcing environmental laws; protecting consumers, elders, and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation; ensuring workers get the wages and benefits they have earned; and standing up for all Washingtonian’s civil rights.

We also work to support our young people to ensure that they have the resources they need to live healthy, hopeful lives.

It’s no secret that the federal government’s disapproval of the District’s statehood rests on the politics of exclusion. There has been a long history of systemic racism that has disenfranchised predominantly Black and Brown communities from having a say on the policies most important to their lives – from criminal justice and gun control, from economic opportunity to transportation, from housing to healthcare. This system of inequality must be checked.

There is so much more work to be done, and I’m looking forward continuing to ensure that OAG does its part, as your equity advocate, to fight for justice for every member of our community.

Combatting Anticompetitive Activity

Together with the FTC and eight other state attorneys general, we filed a lawsuit to block a merger between Albertsons and Kroger.

A merger between Kroger, which operates Harris Teeter, and Albertsons, which operates Safeway, would eliminate competition, increase food prices, and restrict District residents’ already limited access to critical resources, including food.

This proposed transaction would further consolidate wealth and influence in an already hyper-concentrated market, reducing shopping choices at a time when too many are already struggling. OAG will always use every legal tool available to stand up for District residents and fight anticompetitive activity that harms people in the District.

Standing Up for Exploited Teachers

OAG successfully resolved a lawsuit against Earl Francisco Lopez, who operated several teacher recruitment companies, including Bilingual Teacher Exchange, that preyed on dozens of foreign exchange program teachers by making false claims. These teachers came to the District as part of a cultural and educational exchange, and they committed themselves to enriching the lives of thousands of DC students while navigating complicated visa requirements.

Mr. Lopez lied about his affiliation with the US State Department. He also falsely claimed to be an official visa sponsor with the power to get teachers fired and deported, charged improperly high fees, and failed to provide promised services.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Mr. Lopez is permanently barred from operating a teacher recruitment business and is required to pay monetary penalties to DC. Additionally, more than 60 DC-area foreign exchange teachers who were misled and overcharged by Lopez and his companies will receive restitution payments.

OAG’s investigation and lawsuit stemmed from complaints from affected teachers. OAG protects residents from fraud, exploitation, and deceptive business practices. To report scams, fraud, or unfair business practices, contact OAG’s Office of Consumer Protection: 

Holding Publicis Accountable for Profiting from the Opioid Epidemic

Too many District residents struggle with opioid use disorder, and we lose hundreds of members of our community to opioid overdoses and fentanyl poisoning every year.

OAG was part of a $350 million multistate settlement with Publicis Health for their role in creating deceptive and aggressive marketing campaigns for Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers.

Over $600,000 of the settlement will go directly to the District, adding to the approximately $83 million already secured through settlements with other companies responsible for this crisis.

Listening to District Youth

OAG's Youth Summit

Too often, we talk about young people without hearing directly from them.  

That’s why, alongside Councilmember Robert White and community groups Mikva DC and Yaay Me, we held a Youth Summit in Ward 8, where we heard from dozens of District youth, parents, mentors, and guardians and discussed how to effectively drive down violence and make our communities safer

It’s critical that we continue to actively seek out the opinions of our young people, give them opportunities to be heard, and incorporate their perspectives into our work.

Announcing the 2024 Class of Charles F.C. Ruff Fellows

2024 Ruff Fellows

Seventeen recent graduates from law schools across the DMV have joined OAG as Charles F.C. Ruff Fellows

Our Ruff Fellowship was established in 2012 to promote public interest legal work and give recent law school graduates the opportunity to practice law as Assistant Attorneys General for the District of Columbia.

Previous Ruff Fellows have gone on to become full-time OAG attorneys, clerk for trial and appellate judges, serve public service institutions, and join the private bar

For more information, including how to apply for next year’s fellowship, click here.