D.C. Council committee holds first meeting on Jack Evans’ ethics investigation

Media Credit: Dean Whitelaw | Staff Photographer

A D.C. Council committee that will review the findings from a law firm’s ethics investigation into Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans held its first meeting Thursday to outline a timeline for the committee’s review.

The committee, on which every D.C. councilmember except Evans serves, will meet up to five times over the next few months to review law firm O’Melveny & Myers’ investigation into Evans, councilmembers said at the meeting. The Council passed a resolution at a legislative meeting earlier that day allotting the committee 90 days after the law firm releases its report to decide on disciplinary action against Evans.

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh said the committee will suggest disciplinary actions for Evans, but the full council – including Evans – will ultimately vote on what measures to take. If the committee does not complete its review by the 90-day deadline, the Council will vote on disciplinary actions against Evans without the group’s recommendations, she said.

“Dating from Nov. 1 – 90 days later is Jan. 30,” Cheh said. “That would be our end time, and then the rules say that if we don’t then it’s almost like an automatic discharge.”

Evans has been the focus of several ethics investigations for using his Council seat to solicit business for his private consulting firm. The Council passed a resolution in July removing Evans from his position as the Committee on Finance and Revenue chairman, and councilmembers formed their own committee to investigate his business dealings.

Cheh said she hopes councilmembers will agree on what actions to take against Evans – like whether the committee’s review should continue or what subpoenas should be issued – but the Council will hold a majority vote if necessary.

“Anything that we take of a material nature, I think we should try to achieve it together,” she said. “But if we can’t, if we’re fractured for some reason, we have to resort to majority votes.”

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie asked at the meeting why information in O’Melveny & Myers’ report might be redacted because the information the firm is reviewing comes from public email servers.

“We probably shouldn’t do this here, but this is a public institution,” McDuffie said. “Our emails, in most cases are subject to FOIA, unless there’s certain exemptions to FOIA, and I imagine this is what the back-and-forth was about.”

Nicole Streeter, the Council’s general counsel, said she will receive O’Melveny & Myers’ report as the ad hoc committee receives the report. She will determine what redactions should be made before releasing the report to the public, Streeter said.

“The redactions will have been made by a O’Melveny & Myers,” Streeter said. “The only redactions that we anticipate now would be redactions that are subject to a third party’s claim of attorney-client privilege.”

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