Local elected officials have said that they use the funds — also known as citizen service programs — to help needy constituents with rent and utility bills as well as unexpected expenses, such as funerals.
The records show that Evans spent $135,897 — about 31 percent of his total spending during the period — on tickets to the Washington Nationals, Washington Wizards, Washington Kastles and through the Washington Sports and Entertainment organization. By comparison, The Post identified $101,564 that Evans directed toward charitable organizations, neighborhood associations, arts groups or charitable activities, such as buying trophies for Little League teams.
Evans defended the spending. He said that he has bought season tickets to athletic events for years to help local sports franchises and that he gives away most of the tickets to Ward 2 residents and local schools and charities.
“I think it’s appropriate to support those teams and give [tickets] to constituents who otherwise may not be able to get to a game,” said Evans, who will seek a sixth term next year.
When the fund is examined back to 1991, when Evans was elected to the council, he notes that only 13 percent of the $1 million he has spent has gone toward sporting tickets. He said that 20-year period provided a more accurate picture of his spending. It appears that Evans used the fund minimally for ticket purchases in his first decade in office.
Under D.C. regulations, constituent services funds may be established to offer “charitable, scientific, educational, medical, recreational and other services” to promote residents’ “general welfare.” But the law does not detail what is considered an acceptable expenditure, except to prohibit the funds from being used for political purposes.
The mayor and council members can raise up to $80,000 for the fund each year, but individual donations are capped at $500 per year. Elected officials can transfer unspent campaign money to the accounts.
Evans, who led the effort on financing Nationals Park to lure professional baseball back to the District in 2005, said that he uses the fund to buy one season ticket to Wizards games at Verizon Center and another for Capitals games. He also has bought two season tickets for games at Nationals Park since it opened in 2008.
On March 1, for example, Evans wrote a check for $4,681 for a season ticket to the Capitals. Two days later, he paid the Wizards $7,644. His two 2011 season tickets at Nationals Park, which he said are behind first base, cost him $10,945 last fall, the records show.