May was quite the month.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and I, with the help of the Attorney General Alliance, kicked off the month with a landmark national convening against Anti-Asian American Pacific Islander hate. A few weeks later, AG Tong and I had the honor of going to the White House to join President Biden as he signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, critical bipartisan legislation to help prevent hate crimes, especially among the AAPI community, and to keep our communities safe.
And at the end of the month, my office announced a new antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. Through this suit, we’re seeking to end Amazon’s anticompetitive practices that have raised prices for consumers and stifled innovation and choice across the entire online retail market.
The lawsuit alleges that the pricing agreements Amazon imposes on third-party sellers are anticompetitive and allow Amazon to illegally build and maintain monopoly power in the online retail market in violation of District law.
For years, Amazon has controlled online retail prices through its restrictive contracts and policies. Amazon requires third-party sellers to agree that they won’t offer their products anywhere else online–including their own websites–for a lower price than on Amazon.
These agreements result in an artificially high price across the online retail marketplace. They ensure that high fees charged to third-party sellers by Amazon–as much as 40% of the product price–are incorporated not only in the price charged on Amazon, but also in the prices charged on competing platforms across the online retail sales market.
Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs. My office filed this antitrust lawsuit to put an end to Amazon’s illegal control of prices across the online retail market. We need a fair online marketplace that expands options available to District residents and promotes competition, innovation, and choice.
To learn more about the case, read this New York Times article.
To learn more about the significance of the case, read this other New York Times article.
Karl A. Racine
Happy Pride Month, DC!
June is Pride Month! This month, we honor the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a reminder of the many challenges the LGBTQ+ community has faced, the progress made, and the fights that remain. Although we celebrate Pride in June, we must remember that Pride is a year-round event that encompasses the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ freedom, equity, and equality. A fight that OAG is most certainly proud to be a part of.
DC’s Human Rights Act is one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country. The DC Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression and sexual orientation as well as 19 other traits, in the context of housing, employment, public accommodations, and educational institutions. OAG’s Civil Rights Section enforces these protections every day to make the District a community where all residents can live, learn, grow, work, love, and play free from hate and discrimination.
This year, we have the option of celebrating both in person and virtually. Check out the Capital Pride Alliance website for more information about events around DC.
All District Residents 12 or Older Are Now Eligible to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine; No Appointment Needed
The District is administering the vaccine at walk-up sites throughout the city, where no appointment is needed.
In addition to walk-up sites, pharmacies, and clinics, health care providers throughout the District are also administering the vaccine. These sites have their own scheduling systems.
If you are unable to leave your house, call 1-855-363-0333, and the vaccine will be brought to you.
For more information, visit https://coronavirus.dc.gov/page/get-vaccinated.
Commemorating the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
It has been a century since a violent white mob massacred hundreds of Black Americans and destroyed the Black neighborhood of Greenwood, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The violent mob set Greenwood on fire and dropped dynamite from planes. Thousands of survivors were left traumatized, stranded, and homeless in their own neighborhood.
For decades, these atrocities were covered up, and the families suffered without recognition. Today, we know that justice–albeit very delayed–can only come with accountability and truth-telling about what happened in June 1921. Only then can we learn from the past and help bring about a brighter future that actively seeks to end injustice. To learn more about the massacre and the neighborhood that was once the “Black Wall Street"–home to a community of thriving Black businesses and establishments–read here.
Concluding a Three-Decade Long Court Oversight of the District's Child & Family Services Agency
This week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia announced the end of the three-decade long LaShawn A. v. Bowser case, a class action lawsuit filed by children who were in foster care or known to the District’s child protection services and foster care system because of reported abuse or neglect. This announcement was a critical step for the District and our most vulnerable residents–abused and neglected children. OAG is proud to have helped the District’s Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) achieve this milestone. The reforms at CFSA will help protect children, but the work isn’t done. The agency must continue providing robust in-home services whenever possible to help reduce the trauma and impact on children caused by removal from their families and placement in foster care.
Just in the past year and a half, OAG has concluded two decades-long cases involving court administered reforms of District agencies–both of which centered around children– allowing the District to operate efficiently to protect and serve the District’s most vulnerable children.
Holding an Officer of Two Nonprofits Accountable for Abusing Authority & Misusing Charitable Funds
Yesterday, OAG filed a complaint against two District nonprofit entities and a long-standing officer and director of those entities for disregarding the nonprofits’ governing requirements and diverting nonprofit funds for the officer’s personal benefit. Instead of using those funds to further the nonprofits’ purpose of supporting education in the foreign services, the officer used them to purchase a personal home in Georgetown now worth more than $2 million. Nonprofit funds are legally required to serve the public good and may not be used for personal gain. OAG will not allow the misuse of nonprofit funds to stand, nor will we allow those who hold power to illegally use money to enrich themselves.