Several advisory neighborhood commissioners signed a letter Tuesday requesting the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority release the findings of their ethics investigation into Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans.
The letter asks the WMATA board of directors – which Evans chairs – to release details of who conducted the investigation and how much money funded the investigation. Commissioners who signed the letter said residents have a right to know contents of the investigation because they are taxpayers who ride and fund the Metro.
Evans is currently under federal criminal investigation for his business relationships. The Washington Post reported in March that Evans used his government email to solicit business from law firms that lobby D.C. officials.
Commissioners signed the letter less than one week after Evans announced that he will step down from his position as WMATA chair.
Patrick Kennedy, an ANC commissioner in Foggy Bottom and a candidate running to unseat Evans in the upcoming election, said WMATA’s silence on the investigation is unusual because the agency released the findings of an ethics investigation into Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham’s business dealings in 2012.
“They have an obligation to make the findings of that investigation, if not the entire body of evidence, available to the public, and it’s a little peculiar to me that they would close the investigation without any sort of official disposition,” Kennedy said.
James Harnett, a Foggy Bottom ANC commissioner and rising senior, said Evans should not serve on the board of directors either as the chairman or a board member because he has used his position in government to pursue personal rather than public interests.
“It’s incredibly concerning to see leaders who are charged with protecting the public interest so blatantly disregard that commitment, that oath, to support the financial interests that are close to themselves,” he said.
Harnett said a the WMATA board’s secretary replied to the commissioners’ letter saying WMATA would consider their concerns, but he does not expect the board to give the commissioners a “formal response.”
Denise Krepp, a commissioner in the Takoma and Brightwood area who wrote the letter, said ANC commissioners can use their position as community leaders to continue asking WMATA for the contents of the investigation. She said students, as D.C. residents, should voice their concerns about Evans’ ethics to local government leaders.
“We’re going to continue to ask for that documentation,” Krepp said. “We may be unpaid. We may not have staff, but we have titles and we’re going to use those titles to demand transparency.”
Evan Yeats, a commissioner in Takoma and Brightwood, said government leaders’ unethical behavior reduces the public’s trust in the government, and commissioners should continue to work to ensure the D.C. government is “not as vulnerable to corruption.”
“For Metro, which is a taxpayer funded organization, a public organization, to do an investigation, to take action on an investigation but not actually disclose the results or the topic of their investigation is completely inappropriate,” Yeats said.