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Meet Doug Emhoff, Possible First-Ever Second Gentleman

DLA Piper sends out a memo telling firm to be mum on Harris husband

By Ken Kurson, August 12, 2020 10:47 am

Then California Attorney General Kamala Harris with husband Douglas Emhoff, SF Pride 2015. (Photo: Thomas Hawk)

As the country begins to meet new Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Californians who’ve known her for years are also getting the opportunity to think more deeply about what her candidacy means. Let’s face it: if Joe Biden wins, he will be the oldest person ever elected to the presidency – 78 at inauguration. The chance that Senator Harris becomes president has got to be viewed as even greater than the built-in advantage any vice president automatically holds.

One interesting thread is the role that would be held by her spouse, Doug Emhoff. As the nation’s first-ever “Second Gentleman,” he too would be breaking new ground.

Doug Emhoff is a partner at law giant DLA Piper, working from the firm’s Los Angeles office. Formed in 2005 from the biggest merger in legal history, DLA Piper is now the #4 ranked firm in the country, according to the American Lawyer.

Sen. Harris has not been shy about appealing to voters based on her identity, which would set numerous firsts if the Democrats win the White House in November. The biracial daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, Harris would also check the “Jewish box” if elected, as Emhoff’s family – and thus Harris’ stepchildren – are New Jersey Jews. Harris even does a loving and credible imitation of her mother-in-law Barb’s Brooklyn-bred accent.

One interesting side note has a little bit of journalism backstory to it. Like all the DLA Piper lawyers, Emhoff, who attended Cal State Northridge before law school at USC, has his profile publicly viewable to anyone who might be considering his services. That’s good marketing. But as Joe Biden took his time in making his selection and the search for clues grew more intense, the California Globe kept an eye on Emhoff’s page. We figured that the sudden disappearance of his bio or at least his phone number might be a sign that his wife since 2014 was indeed the selection.

Doug Emhoff’s profile pic on DLA Piper’s website. (Photo: DLA Piper)

Nope. Even 24 hours after Biden made his pick, Mr. Emhoff’s page remains visible. It includes his brief bio of success representing “large domestic and international corporations and some of today’s highest profile individuals and influencers.”

DLA Piper’s commitment to accessibility is admirable, as is Mr. Emhoff’s apparent intention to maintain the semi normal life he’s kept, even as his wife’s political star has risen. He’s been equally accessible throughout her career as Attorney General and in the United States Senate, as well as during her presidential run earlier this year. One can imagine his phone and email lighting up during times in which Sen. Harris was engaged in contentious public affairs, such as the Kavanaugh hearings.

But that’s not to say DLA Piper is unaware of the higher profile. Yesterday, after the pick was announced, the firm’s “Office of General Counsel” sent around a memo to all offices in the US reminding colleagues of the firm’s policy regarding media inquiries. It advises the firm’s lawyers not to comment, and then also instructs them on how to comment if they cannot abide the advice not to comment.

California Globe has obtained the memo, which is unsigned but presumably written by General Counsel Elisha King. It reads, in part:

All: Earlier today, former Vice President Joe Biden announced that his running mate for the 2020 presidential election will be Senator Kamala Harris. As many of you know, Senator Harris’ spouse is our partner, Doug Emhoff. This is an exciting development for Doug, Senator Harris, and their family.

Please do not comment publicly (including on social media) about Doug’s work with the firm …. As a reminder, to the extent you wish to comment publicly on the selection, or other political issues, please be sure to do so in your personal capacity only.

So that’s what we know so far about the man who has a decent chance to be the first-ever Second Gentleman and a not bad shot at first-ever First Gentleman.

Emails to Mr. Emhoff and an email and call to Ms. King, all before 10 am, were not returned as of press time. This story will be updated with their replies, should they choose to respond.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly indicated that the memo was sent only to partners. It was actually sent to all US employees of DLA Piper.

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One thought on “Meet Doug Emhoff, Possible First-Ever Second Gentleman

  1. Given the fact that the husband of the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2020 is a partner in a corporate law firm, DLA PIper, that has already been paid over $4 million to lobby on behalf of special interests in DC (and also continues to operate a business in Israel), doesn’t that raise a legitimate conflict-of-interest issue that should also be fully examined by U.S. journalists now? https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/firms/summary?id=D000021569

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