Evans’s favorable ratings have fallen from 35 percent in 2012 to 4 percent in this month’s citywide poll, while unfavorable marks have roughly doubled from 13 percent to 29 percent over the same period. Many residents are unfamiliar with Evans, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2014, with most saying they do not know enough about him to have an opinion.
Even though they may not know Evans, D.C. residents are sharply critical of his conduct, which has been reported by The Post and investigated by lawyers hired by both the council and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, for which Evans served as board chair before he resigned in June.
The Post poll finds 72 percent saying Evans was wrong to take actions as a council member that benefited companies that privately paid him as a consultant, including 56 percent who say Evans’s actions were “seriously wrong.”
In a follow-up question, 64 percent of D.C. residents say Evans should resign, while 15 percent say he should not and 21 percent have no opinion. A 71 percent majority of registered Democrats support Evans’s resignation, as well as majorities across demographic groups and regions of the city.
On Tuesday, lawyers hired by the D.C. Council to investigate Evans’s public actions and his private consulting business presented their findings during a public hearing. In their 97-page report, lawyers with the firm O’Melveny & Myers identified 11 instances since 2014 in which Evans allegedly violated ethics rules by taking official actions that aided employers or private clients, who paid him more than $400,000.
Most of Evans’s colleagues have called for him to resign. Evans, first elected in 1991, has said he has “no intention” of doing so. His attorneys, Abbe Lowell and Mark Tuohey, prepared a 67-page rebuttal to the O’Melveny & Myers report. Lowell and Tuohey called it a biased report that misunderstood ethics rules and took responses by Evans out of context.
Heidi Pilloud, a 36-year-old resident of Ward 2 who has lived in the District for about 10 years, said Evans did something seriously wrong and should step down. As an accountant, she said, “one of the things that we talk about when we talk about fraud is that there should be no conflict of interest in actuality or in perception.”
Pilloud said she thinks Evans was using his public office to benefit his business relationships. “But even if he wasn’t, it would be a major conflict in perception,” she said.
“I don’t think that the problem is limited to Jack Evans, although he’s one of the more egregious recent examples,” Pilloud added.
Stanley Whatley, 60, said he hasn’t read much about the allegations but doesn’t think Evans should resign. As Whatley sees it, Evans is about the only pro-business lawmaker on the council.
“Everybody else has been basically some version of progressive, believing that business should foot the bill for whatever programs these officials can come up with,” said Whatley, an architect who is a Ward 1 resident and has lived in the District for 20 years.
Whatley said Evans may have broken some ethics rules, but he hasn’t done anything to deserve more than a fine or censure.
“D.C. needs people like him — not exactly like him — but he’s the closest one to him that we have right now, so I’m just being pragmatic,” Whatley said.
Despite concerns about Evans, the share of D.C. residents who say corruption is a “big problem” in city government has dipped to 41 percent, down from 52 percent eight years ago and as high as 74 percent in the late 1980s.
Most D.C. residents support barring council members from holding outside jobs in addition to their positions on council, which pay roughly $140,000 per year — a proposal endorsed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and others on the council. A 57 percent majority say council members should not be allowed to hold outside employment, while 36 percent say they should be able to do so.
On Monday, a group of activists submitted petitions to force a recall election of Evans, who is up for reelection next year. The D.C. Board of Elections has 30 days to verify that the 5,600 signatures collected are from voters registered in Ward 2. No council member or mayor has ever been subjected to a recall vote.
This Post poll was conducted by telephone Nov. 12 through Sunday among a random sample of 905 adult residents of the District. Interviews were conducted by live interviewers; 75 percent of the residents were interviewed on cellphones and 25 percent on landlines. The overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Emily Guskin contributed to this report.