Civil investigators are looking into whether a 27-year D.C. Council veteran violated the Council’s code of conduct, Washington City Paper reported last Friday.
Councilmember Jack Evans – who represents Ward 2, including Foggy Bottom – has been under review by the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability since January. Brent Wolfingbarger, the director of government ethics on the board, said at a meeting earlier this month that Evans is under review for “lobbying on behalf of a client for a law firm at which he was employed,” according to the City Paper.
Wolfingbarger told other board members at a meeting in early June that he had received complaints that Evans made “false statements” about his outside employment on his most recent financial disclosure statement.
The accusations first came to light in April, when the ethics board released a complaint report, which included the announcement of a “formal investigation” into allegations that “an elected official” had made a Council decision that acted in their own financial interest. The list did not name the official.
The board only publicly announced that Evans was the main subject of the investigation earlier this month, the article states.
The investigation began on the premise that Evans may have inappropriately aided a company called Digi Media with “legal services” after the D.C. attorney general restricted the business from constructing large digital signs outside around the District in 2016. Evans drafted emergency legislation to legalize the company’s signs but then withdrew it, according to the article.
Evans, the longest-serving councilman in the D.C. Council’s history, chairs both the D.C. Council Committee on Finance and Revenue and the Metro’s board.
Evans previously held a position as an attorney at the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, and he is currently a principal of consultancy at a self-started firm called NSE Consulting. Evans said he made at least $50,000 for each role in 2016 in a financial disclosure form he submitted to the ethics board in 2017, but he did not disclose his clients, according to the article.
Evans told The Washington Post last month that he returned two checks totaling $50,000 to Digi Media in 2016, which had “sought to pay” his consulting company after it had recently registered as a business with the District. The Post reported that in the same year, Digi Media offered Evans’ son an internship for the summer, but he turned it down.
Councilmembers who avoid conflicts of interest and meet disclosure requirements are allowed to keep jobs outside of the Council. The only current Council members who hold outside jobs are Evans and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, a law professor.
Evans did not return a request for comment.