D.C. COUNCIL member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) has done a lot of good for Washington during his 28 years on the D.C. Council. He helped to put the District on sound financial footing and played a major role in the revival of downtown, the return of major league baseball and the protection of Metro. But Mr. Evans’s accomplishments cannot be used to excuse conduct that raises troubling questions.
Mr. Evans, the longest-serving council member in D.C. history, is at the center of growing scrutiny and controversy. A federal grand jury, The Post’s Steve Thompson reported last week, issued a subpoena in September for documents related to Mr. Evans and a digital sign company that would have benefited from legislation he had promoted in 2016. Then, further reporting by Mr. Thompson revealed how Mr. Evans sent out job solicitation offers, using government email and staff, to private law firms, marketing his experience and connections as an elected official and chairman of Metro.
In the first instance, federal authorities will determine whether there were violations of the law in Mr. Evans’s interactions with the sign company, which included the offer of a summer job to his son. Mark Tuohey, lawyer for Mr. Evans, has said there was no criminal wrongdoing, pointing out that the legislation was never introduced and that offers from the company, including the summer job offer, were turned down.
Whether Mr. Evans acted inappropriately when he emailed business proposals to prospective employers is a separate but equally important question. Council members are permitted under D.C. law to hold outside jobs, and Mr. Tuohey said Mr. Evans consulted with the general counsel on matters related to his private work.
But the District code of ethical conduct prohibits the use of government resources for private activities. It also states that public officials “may not knowingly use the prestige of office or public position for that employee’s private gain.” In 2018 emails obtained by The Post under a Freedom of Information Act request, Mr. Evans touted his council and Metro positions and pointedly noted that D.C. government “is the flattest political organization in the country” with just 15 elected officials. One of those happens to be Mr. Evans.
Metro, for which Mr. Evans serves as chair, said Monday it would have its ethics officer investigate the situation. The D.C. Council should take similar action and convene a special committee to answer the questions that surround Mr. Evans.