The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Mark Tuohey, sports-loving defense lawyer, joins D.C. attorney general race

A prominent name in the District’s legal and political worlds is joining the rapidly developing race to be the city’s attorney general: Mark H. Tuohey, a white-collar defense attorney also known for his central role in bringing a Major League Baseball team back to Washington, said Tuesday he had filed papers to pursue the office.

Being relatively well-known in establishment circles, the 67-year-old Brown Rudnick partner brings instant credibility and considerable fundraising potential to the race, which was suddenly rekindled earlier this month by the D.C. Court of Appeals.

“I’ve been approached by a lot of people in the past week,” Tuohey said, who want an attorney general in the mold of current officeholder Irvin B. Nathan or predecessors Charles F.C. Ruff or John A. Payton — all lawyers with distinguished pedigrees. Tuohey wouldn’t specify the source of the entreaties: “I better not name names, but you’d know them all.”

Tuohey is a former federal prosecutor who prosecuted the perpetrators of the 1977 Hanafi Muslim sieges and much later served briefly as a deputy to independent counsel Ken Starr during the Whitewater investigation. More recently, he has represented a key figure in the investigation centered on businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson: His longtime right-hand woman, Jeanne Clarke Harris, who was first to reveal Thompson’s wide-ranging political corruption.

Tuohey is currently co-chairman of the D.C. Police Foundation and is a past chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which made him a key negotiator in the deal that turned the Montreal Expos into the Washington Nationals.

“If the court orders that there’s going to be a race in November, I feel like this is an important office, and a highly respected lawyer who knows his or her way around and knows the issues needs to be involved,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday, shortly after WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood first tweeted the news.

Whether the AG election takes place on Nov. 4, alongside the mayoral and D.C. Council elections, or at some point after remains up in the air. The D.C. Court of Appeals is still considering whether it will rehear the case, and on Tuesday the court asked plaintiff Paul H. Zukerberg to reply by week’s end to the city’s request for a rehearing.

Zukerberg, who pressed the case that put the election back on the fast track and was heretofore the only declared candidate for the office, said Tuesday he was pleased to have Tuohey in the race: “It looks like the political establishment has decided the election is going to go forward, and they need to put up a candidate. … I’m happy people will have a choice.”