Election officials halted a recall effort against D.C. Council member Jack Evans on Wednesday because of technical mistakes made by recall supporters.
The D.C. Board of Elections declined to give the green light for activists to collect the signatures needed to force a recall election, because they did not file the proper campaign finance paperwork on time.
The attempt to boot Evans (D-Ward 2) from office came in response to a growing ethics scandal and an investigation by federal authorities into the veteran lawmaker’s business dealings.
Adam Eidinger, an activist best known for spearheading a 2014 ballot initiative that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, led the effort to recall Evans.
“Unfortunately the requirements just weren’t met,” D. Michael Bennett, the chairman of the elections board, said at a Wednesday hearing. “You’ll have to start the process again.”
Eidinger, who stormed out of the hearing, said that he was given conflicting information from campaign finance authorities but acknowledged that the board raised “legitimate” issues. He vowed he would try again.
If recall supporters get their paperwork in order, the earliest the board could authorize signature collection is in May, when its next meeting is scheduled. Recall supporters would then have 180 days to collect signatures from at least 10 percent of registered voters in Ward 2, roughly 5,200 people, to force a recall election.
Don Dinan, an attorney representing Evans, questioned whether Eidinger meets the requirement that a recall petitioner be a constituent of the targeted elected official. Eidinger has said he resides in Ward 2, but Dinan presented evidence that Eidinger listed a Ward 1 address on some government forms.
“He can’t be in two places at once,” said Dinan, who also serves as general counsel for the D.C. Democratic State Committee.
Elections board members did not rule on that issue but warned Eidinger that it must be sorted out if he attempts a recall again.
Eidinger insisted that he lives in his rental property in Ward 2 and is registered to vote there. “That’s my residence. I will sue the board if I have to,” Eidinger said.
Evans declined to answer questions about the recall. But in a statement he submitted to appear on recall petitions, he defended his 28-year tenure on the council and said he delivered for a ward that includes downtown, Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle and Georgetown. He did not address the ethics scandals in his statement.
D.C. voters have never recalled a mayor or council member.
If recall supporters submit valid signatures, the board has 114 days to hold a recall election. If Evans is ousted, the board would have another 114 days to call a special election to fill the vacancy.