D.C. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans will step down from his position on the Metro’s Board of Directors next week.
Evans sent a letter to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson Thursday to announce his resignation, effective June 27, amid new revelations from an ethics probe into Evans. A 20-page internal memo from Schulte, Roth & Zabel, a law firm retained during the Metro Board ethics committee’s investigation, states Evans committed ethics violations by leveraging his leadership position to secure private business plans.
Evans’ letter comes one day after he admitted that he violated Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ethics codes, contradicting an earlier assertion Tuesday that the Board’s ethics committee hadn’t found any violations, The Washington Post reported.
The letter did not state why Evans decided to step down.
Evans backtracked on his claim about the ethics committee after a memo authored by Metro General Counsel Patricia Lee and obtained by The Post Wednesday revealed that the committee found Evans violated the ethics code once when he failed to disclose his consulting agreement with Colonial Parking.
Hours after The Post released the memo, Evans acknowledged his violation and apologized for “any misunderstanding.” He added that the committee’s finding that he violated the code is “something that went by” him because he was primarily focused on the “remedy” – revising his disclosure forms to include his $50,000-a-year contract with Colonial Parking per the committee’s demand, The Post reported.
Ethics committee chair Clarence Crawford and committee members David Horner and Paul Smedberg said Evans’ agreement with the Board in the aftermath of the investigation stipulated that Evans would not seek reelection as chair of the Board when his term ends June 30, The Post reported. Evans previously said his decision not to seek reelection as chairman was unrelated to the ethics probe.
State and local politicians have called for more disclosure from WMATA and criticized the agency’s handling of the ethics probe.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, both called for increased transparency and for Metro to develop a formalized process for handling ethics investigations in the future. Requests from Northam, Hogan and several other politicians for the results of the ethics committee’s probe led to the release of the 20-page memo.
Hogan tweeted Tuesday that Evans’ actions have “forced WMATA” to go to “great lengths to cover up his extensive wrongdoing.”
“This is outrageous and totally unacceptable,” Hogan said in a tweet. “Maryland funds WMATA, and we deserve to know everything this investigation uncovered – no sugarcoating or stonewalling.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson also said they wanted to see the law firm’s full report, with Mendelson saying he had a “number of questions” after looking at the released summary. But committee members said a full report doesn’t exist because they avoided putting things in writing, The Post reported.
Officials said lawyers advised them not to produce a written report because a physical document could be used as the basis for a lawsuit against WMATA, but it is unclear whether the legal advice came from WMATA’s counsel, outside counsel or both, according to The Post. The absence of a formal report has “contributed to the dispute over whether the committee found that Evans had committed any violations at all,” The Post reported.
Bowser, who has previously defended Evans, said in a statement Thursday that Evans’ departure will allow the transit agency to move on from the ethics probe, according to The Post.
“This report and his resignation address his failure to uphold the public trust and allows WMATA and the District of Columbia to focus on the needs of Metro riders,” Bowser said. “I look forward to working with Chairman Mendelson on the Council’s appointment of the District of Columbia’s next principal member.”