The D.C. Council’s myopic handling of embattled member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) could be dismissed as an exercise in klutziness were the situation not so serious. Lawmakers seem too shortsighted to see the urgent need to resolve the problem that the council’s longest-serving member presents.


Evans has been fined $20,000 by the District’s Board of Ethics and Government Accountability over his use of government resources and the prestige of his office for personal gain.

●The Metro board, where Evans served as chairman, found he had failed to disclose a conflict of interest with a company that was secretly paying him $50,000 a year. Evans resigned in disgrace.

●Evans is the target of a federal grand jury investigation. Prosecutors have subpoenaed records from the D.C. government involving him and his business clients; the FBI has searched his home.

His shenanigans at Metro, where he was accused of “knowingly” and repeatedly abusing his position to help friends and private clients, were so embarrassing that the hear-no-evil, see-no-evil council was forced to act. It did as little as possible by handing down a reprimand — based on a Post article — and he was subsequently stripped of his finance committee chairmanship.

Finally, over the summer, gleaning that the council’s credibility was at stake, Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) convinced his colleagues to adopt a resolution authorizing an investigation into Evans’s conduct.

But in keeping with the council’s tradition of letting colleagues vote on their own disciplinary crackdowns, Mendelson gave Evans a chance show how he felt about being investigated. Evans thought it was a bad idea and voted “no.”

Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen, according to The Post, has proposed that the council change legislative rules to prohibit lawmakers from voting on any matter “that directly and substantially affects the member.”

That eminently sensible notion, however, runs smack dab into the Mr. Magoo-like quality actualized in the council — a nearsighted legislative body that stubbornly refuses to admit problems from within. Said Mendelson of Holman’s suggestions that Evans ought to recuse himself: “The fact is, he’s a member, so he gets to vote.”

With that, the council adopted a July 9 resolution authorizing a narrowly focused investigation with no set deadline.

The resolution calls for an investigation into the official and outside activities of Evans from the period Jan. 1, 2014, to the present related to his private firm, NSE Consulting LLC, any NSE client or any other private entity by which Evans was employed or for which he consulted. The council wants the inquiry to determine whether Evans violated the city’s code of conduct for public officials or D.C. Council rules relating to conflicts of interest, outside activities, the use of government resources or use of confidential information.

Rather than relying upon the independent D.C. inspector general, D.C. attorney general or Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, Mendelson elected to hire top-rated private law firm O’Melveny and Myers to conduct the probe for “fees not to exceed $250,000.

Mendelson certainly chose a firm known for representing clients with high profiles.

In the class-action fraud case brought by former Trump University students against Donald Trump and Trump University, Trump was defended by O’Melveny and Myers.

An O’Melveny and Myers partner represents Trump’s inaugural committee as it faces legal questions from federal prosecutors.

O’Melveny and Myers also represented Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, who faced scrutiny over investments he held on to after entering government service.

In July, Mendelson said he expected the O’Melveny investigation to get wrapped around the time the council returned from its summer vacation.

The council is back, the days of September are dwindling, and the report is, thus far, a no-show.

This week, Mendelson disclosed in a news briefing that the probe has been delayed because key witnesses have refused to speak to O’Melveny and Myers investigators or comply with subpoenas issued by the firm. They “are not coming in to be interviewed” complained Mendelson. Oh, boohoo.

Now the council, at Mendelson’s urging, has voted to give the city the authority to ask the D.C. Superior Court to enforce the subpoenas. (Once again, Evans voted “no.” )

The new due date for the public to get a peek at O’Melveny and Myers’s probe is mid-October, Mendelson said.

By then, maybe the D.C. Council will finally be able to see what’s right in front of its face.

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