Majority of D.C. Council calls for Evans’ resignation following ethics probe release

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Dean Whitelaw

A D.C. Council investigation found that Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans violated the Council's ethics code 11 times.

Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans repeatedly violated the D.C. Council’s ethics regulations, according to a report the law firm investigating Evans released Tuesday.

O’Melveny & Myers, the law firm that looked into Evans’ use of his seat on the Council to benefit his personal consulting firm, found that he has violated ethics policies 11 times since 2014. Since the report’s release, a majority of the Council has called for his resignation, but Evans maintains that he was not aware that he had violated ethics codes.

Evans used his office to conduct business on behalf of his personal consulting firm’s clients while being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars – which was not properly disclosed, the report states.

“He repeatedly participated in his official capacity in ‘particular matters’ in which his outside employers or his personal clients had direct financial interests, failing to recognize the inherent conflict that should have been disclosed and addressed,” the report states.

The 97-page report states that Evans did not properly disclose his clients to the Council and that he relied on his staff to identify possible conflicts of interest but did not inform his staff of the names of his clients. The law firm found that Evans and his staff advised construction company Willco, one of Evans’ clients, while communicating with District officials.

“He failed on several occasions to recuse himself from matters involving financial interests of a prospective employer,” the report states. “He received over $400,000 for doing little or no documented work for consulting clients most, if not all, of whom were also ‘prohibited sources’ under the Code of Official Conduct.”

Evans blocked Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposal to increase taxes on commercial parking companies while representing the parking company Colonial Parking, according to the report.

The report states that Evans also repeatedly supported a merger between Pepco and Exelon while he was vying for a job at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the law firm overseeing the merger.

Evans told investigators that he acted in public interest, rather than his clients’ interest, according to the report.

Evans did not return a request for comment.

In a 67-page document that Evans’ legal office released Tuesday, Evans disputes the law firm’s findings, claiming that he misunderstood the Council’s ethics rules.

“Nevertheless the report confirms that Mr. Evans’ errors were not intentional, resulted only from a ‘misunderstanding’ of the rules and there was no evidence that any official act was ever tied to his consulting relationships,” the response states.

Evans stepped down from his position as the chair of the Washington Metropolitan Area  Transit Authority in June after the organization released an ethics review finding that he violated WMATA’s ethics codes. The Council voted in July to remove Evans from his position as the chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.

Councilmembers hired the law firm that conducted the investigation. As of Wednesday, nine councilmembers have called for Evans’ resignation following the report’s release.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said at a press conference Tuesday that he spoke with Evans two months ago about his resignation, but he has declined to say what they discussed. Cuneyt Dil, a politics reporter with the DC Line, tweeted Monday night that two sources have told him that Mendelson encouraged Evans to step down two months ago.

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, who chairs the ad hoc committee that will review the findings of the investigation, tweeted Tuesday night that Evans’ resignation would be a “wise and appropriate step.”

The ad hoc committee, comprised of each councilmember excluding Evans, met for the first time late last month to determine the conditions of its review of O’Melveny & Myers’ investigation. The committee will meet several times over the next few months to decide how to respond to Evans’ actions.

Cheh said the ad hoc committee will continue to review the law firm’s findings in a “fair, judicious and transparent manner” if Evans does not step down.

“I had withheld my view so as to not color their impressions of the law firm report in any way,” she tweeted. “However, it is now clear that will not be the case.”

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen called for Evans’ resignation from the Council in a release Tuesday night.

“The O’Melveny investigation into Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans released today outlines a clear pattern and practice of unethical behavior that has compromised his ability to effectively serve on the Council and has destroyed public trust in his decision making,” Allen said in the statement. “We have had to question every vote and every action he takes.”

At-large Councilmember Robert White tweeted Tuesday night that Evans’ resignation is in “the best interest of the city.”

“It is clear that he has irreparably harmed the public’s trust by using his office to benefit private clients and himself,” White said in the tweet.

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie released a statement Monday morning calling on Evans to resign. McDuffie introduced a bill Wednesday that would prevent councilmembers from holding outside employment, he said in the release.

“The O’Melveny report reveals a pattern of unethical conduct by Councilmember Evans, and his actions have irreparably breached the public’s trust,” he said in the statement.

Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White tweeted Monday calling on Evans to resign from his position.

“Jack and I spoke and we do not agree,” White tweeted. “His responses don’t make sense. What he should do is his choice, but I told him he should resign and focus on his family who solely depend on him.”

Avi Bajpai and Chanler Miller contributed reporting.

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