Council Member Evans Faces Backlash

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Jack Evans at the opening of the Wisconsin Avenue Wawa. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.

Jack Evans, Georgetown’s representative on the D.C. Council, admits he used his government-issued email account to pitch his private consulting business to lobbying and law firms and other businesses. He offered to help them navigate government bureaucracies using his expertise and influence, garnered in decades of experience as the District’s longest serving lawmaker.

On Tuesday, March 5, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced a resolution to reprimand Evans. “It will send a clear message that Mr. Evans’ actions are not only unacceptable bur are inconsistent with the Council’s ethical standards,” he said.

Mendelson noted that the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability has been looking into the matter. So is a federal grand jury. And on Monday, the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which Evans chairs, directed the agency’s ethics officer to take up the issue as well.

These investigations may delve into Evans’s dealings and relationships in 2016 with a company seeking (but not getting) special consideration on a contract with the District.

“I made some major mistakes and I want to apologize,” the Ward 2 Council member responded on Tuesday afternoon. “In retrospect, I would have done a lot of things differently.”

But several Council members are demanding more accountability and consequences for Evans’s behavior. Brianne Nadeau of Ward 1 and At-Large Council members David Grosso and Elissa Silverman want a special Council committee set up to investigate the issues comprehensively. The latter two also are demanding that Evans lose his committee assignments, including his positions chairing the Finance and Revenue Committee, the Committee on the Judiciary and the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability.

On Wednesday, March 6, 23 members of the District of Columbia Democratic State Committee signed an open letter urging Evans to voluntarily step down as a national committeman of the local party and its executive board. State committee members Kishan Putta and Monica Roaché, current and former members, respectively, of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, signed the letter.

Critics cited the loss of public trust and, in some cases, the perception of corruption or abuse as their reasons for calling for Evans to step down. At stake, they claim, are efforts of the District to be given the earliest spot on the DNC’s presidential primary schedule — and even the chances for D.C. statehood.

Marcus Goodwin, president of DC Young Democrats, doesn’t agree. He called the letter premature, saying: “I don’t think we’re at that point yet.” And some Council members have expressed a wait-and-see position, pending the results of the current investigations.

“We’ll see what happens,” Evans said at a press conference on March 4. “Hopefully it all comes out fine.”

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