In this case, D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) is playing the role of Donald Trump lite. And it’s a role the Democrat who has served on the D.C. Council for nearly 30 years didn’t expect.
“I’m not going to resign, not today, not tomorrow,” Evans told The Washington Post a month ago.
He’s more articulate than Trump, but the sentiment is largely the same: He wants to fight.
It’s like the off-Broadway play that’s just as juicy as the Broadway show up the street.
This week, 12 of Evans’s colleagues voted unanimously for his expulsion. His office has gone quiet, and his staff isn’t returning requests for comment.
The scandal is the swampiest of swamp stories.
It’s got a huge investigation done by an independent law firm that concluded that for the past five years, Evans has been getting big bucks from his law clients for zero law work. But these clients all had business before the Council.
“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,” the report said.
These clients were folks who do business with the city: developers, utilities, parking lot owners, software developers.
“He has betrayed each and every one of us,” said council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), the member leading the investigation into Evans’s shenanigans. “You would speak to him about council things, but he was speaking for the people who were buying him.”
Evans has been the pro-business Democrat in the District for decades now, and some of the city’s incredible growth is because of him.
Some of the things you value about Metro? He helped with that. The whole convention center area — the reason you can get a Milk Bar birthday truffle without going to New York? Evans had a hand in that. That whole baseball thing? It was one of the things he worked hard on.
In 1998, he made a huge push to be the District’s first white mayor. It was a stretch. He campaigned in what was then still a broken city trying to get out from under federal control and start attracting basic development. We weren’t in get-us-Trader Joe’s territory yet.
“First and foremost is education, of course,” he told The Post, as he launched that campaign. “Our human service cluster, where we have 120,000 people in the city who are still struggling to invest in their well-being. Finally, health care . . . and how we can continue to provide health care for all of our citizens?”
But those goals became less of an imperative when he tried, unsuccessfully again, to run in 2014.
By that time, Evans had already been scrutinized in 2005 for the way he used money in his “Jack PAC.” The contributions to the fund — huge sums were given by developers, parking lot folks, billboard vendors — were legal. But then he used the cash for sports tickets, dinners, a trip to Washington Nationals spring training, a trip to China. Oops.
All that was missing was a huge portrait of himself.
He didn’t get in trouble because it wasn’t illegal. It was just yucky. And he continues to bathe his once-admirable political career in an inglorious stench.
The latest scandal is uglier, and it includes parallel federal investigations.
Sounds familiar, right?
Trump’s scandals follow America on the world stage. Who could escape the video this week of a small gaggle of world leaders who were caught mocking Trump at this week’s NATO summit?
Similarly, as the District tried to make the case for statehood on the national stage earlier this fall, House GOP members dragged the Evans scandal into the hearings as Exhibit A of the District’s instability and ineligibility for statehood.
It even involved impeachment-starring hysteric, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
“As our Committee considers legislation concerning DC Statehood, the Committee must fully assess the cloud of scandal surrounding D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans,” Jordan and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Post.
Looks like the federal overlords have someone new in D.C. government to kick around.
No longer do we have to hear outsiders run down former — and now deceased — mayor Marion Barry.
Move over, Mayor for Life. Yeah, Barry was set up.
But Evans didn’t need any help creating his corrosive cloud of scandal.
It’s time for Evans to resign and take his conflicts with him.
The Wilson Building, the majestic building that houses the District’s government and stands on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol, should be the high and dry ground in the Washington swamp.
It’s the best, last thing that Evans can do for the city.
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