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D.C. Council, Bowser administration receive federal subpoenas in Jack Evans ethics probe

D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) in 2016.
D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) in 2016. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
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The D.C. Council and the administration of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser have received federal subpoenas for a wide range of information related to council member Jack Evans and his constellation of private legal and consulting clients.

The demand for documents late this week indicated that federal prosecutors have stepped up their scrutiny of Evans (D-Ward 2), a lawyer and one of the most powerful politicians in the District, as they seek to understand how he has operated at the crossroads of politics and business.

A letter to all 13 council members from their general counsel Friday warned them to preserve all documents related to the subjects of the subpoena.

“Please be advised that, because these matters are the subject of pending federal investigation, the failure to preserve documents or information addressed in this memorandum may result in serious criminal or other penalties,” wrote the general counsel, Nicole Streeter.

The subpoena to the office of Bowser (D), dated Tuesday, requests that a range of documents similar to those described in the memo on the council subpoena be turned over to the FBI’s Washington Field Office, according to city officials familiar with the matter.

Evans did not return calls for comment Friday. In recent days, he has issued several brief public apologies to his fellow council members, his constituents and the District’s Democratic Party, but he did not say what he was apologizing for and he has refused to answer questions from reporters.

Last week, The Washington Post reported that Evans repeatedly used his government email to solicit business from law firms that had lobbied the city government, offering to use the influence and connections he amassed as the city’s longest-serving lawmaker and as chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority to help their clients.

In business proposals, Evans pitched his influence and connections

The Post also reported that a federal grand jury issued a subpoena in September to the D.C. Office of the City Administrator, demanding documents relating to Evans and legislation he promoted in 2016 that would have benefited a digital sign company, Digi Outdoor Media.

The array of people and entities covered in the subpoena to Bowser’s office and Friday’s memo to the council suggested the scope of the federal investigation could be widening. According to the memo from Streeter, the subpoena sought information about several law firms for which Evans has worked and those where he sought jobs, as well as clients of those firms. The subpoena to the mayor’s office identified the same firms and clients, the city officials familiar with the document said.

Council chairman says Evans acted inappropriately

Evans, 65, has served on the D.C. Council for 28 years. He is chairman of the council’s powerful Finance and Revenue Committee, which handles tax policy, public-private partnerships and general-obligation and industrial bonds, and oversees the chief financial officer, among other things.

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) said during a Friday appearance on “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” on WAMU-FM that, as a city resident, he was troubled by allegations of official misconduct.

But Racine, whose office is not involved in the Evans investigation, said the public should withhold judgment until more facts are known.

“It’s important for us to recognize that Jack Evans has not been charged for a crime,” Racine said. “Hold your horses here — he’s presumed innocent.”

On Tuesday, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) proposed a resolution of reprimand against Evans, but three council members — David Grosso (I-At Large), Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) — submitted a written request for a special council committee to investigate. Mendelson said he did not think a special committee investigation was necessary, citing the ongoing federal probe.

Mendelson said Friday that the new flurry of subpoenas had not changed his mind.

Silverman said the new subpoenas are yet more evidence that the council needs to take Evans’s alleged transgressions more seriously.

The WMATA board on Monday directed the agency’s ethics officer to investigate Evans.

Streeter’s memo and the subpoena to Bowser’s office asked council members to preserve documents related to about three dozen people and entities. The existence of Streeter’s memorandum was first reported by Washington City Paper.

The Post on Friday attempted to contact every entity named in the documents. All either declined to comment or did not return messages.

They are:

●Law firms where Evans has worked — Squire Patton Boggs, as well as Manatt, Phelps and Phillips — as well as firms where he sought work: Venable, K&L Gates and Nelson Mullins. The memo named John Ray, a partner at Manatt, as well as Timothy Fitzgibbon, a partner at Nelson Mullins.

●NSE Consulting, a firm Evans created in 2016, as well as D.C. lobbyist William Jarvis, who served as the firm’s registered agent.

●Energy giant Exelon, which Evans has listed in business proposals as a client he could help prospective employers attract. The memo also named Pepco, whose merger with Exelon was championed by Evans as a council member.

●Georgetown real estate developer Anthony Lanier and companies he heads: EastBanc, EastBanc Technologies and the cafe and sports facility Squash on Fire.

●Russell Lindner, who heads Colonial Parking and its parent, the Forge Co.

●Willco Construction and its chairman, Richard Cohen.

●Ronald Paul, chief executive and chairman of EagleBank and RDP Management, which were also named.

●Electrical-design firm M.C. Dean and its head, Bill Dean.

●Digi Outdoor Media, its president, Donald MacCord, as well as related companies and former investment partners: Digi Holdings, Digi Media Communications, Digi Urban Northwest, Lumen Eight Media Group, Signworks and Branded Cities.

Evans got stock before pushing legislation that would benefit the company

Bill proposed by Evans would have helped company that offered internship to his son

Council offers muted response to Evans’s sign-company controversy

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