D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Monday he plans to hire an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into Council member Jack Evans and the results of that investigation would be made public.
“Most of the power with regard to legislation is with committee chair. They determine the agenda, they determine what moves, what doesn’t move, how things move, what amendments to accept,” Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said at a press briefing. “It is extraordinary to be removing someone as a chair of a committee, and I think the situation warranted it in this case.”
Meanwhile, the council is looking to refer to other committees legislation that currently is before the Committee on Finance and Revenue. Mr. Mendelson noted that a sports betting bill will be considered Wednesday by the Committee on the Whole, which he chairs.
The law firm to conduct the investigation will be chosen before the start of the summer recess, and the investigation hopefully will be completed when the recess is over in September, the council chairman said.
Federal agents searched the home of Mr. Evans on Friday following the The Washington Post’s publication of a memo by the law firm that conducted Metro’s investigation into Mr. Evans, that said he knowingly used his position as chairman of the transit agency’s Board of Directors to secretly benefit his client, Colonial Parking.
Mr. Evans repeatedly had denied any wrongdoing.
“What is very clear to everyone: we were told, members and the public were told there was no violation of ethics, when in fact there was, and I don’t think that misstatement can be minimized,” Mr. Mendelson said. “That’s why we’re taking this step.”
Mr. Evans, the longest-serving member on the D.C. Council, announced last week that he would resign from the Metro Board, after having said previously that he would not seek the chairmanship again after his term ends on Sunday.
Council member Charles Allen stopped short of calling for Mr. Evans‘ resignation from the legislative body.
“There is no scenario in which council member Evans‘ conduct is inappropriate for his service as our representative to the Metro Board, but somehow acceptable as a council member,” the Ward 6 Democrat said.
Mr. Allen said the council and the public need to know more before further action is taken.
Mr. Evans‘ office did not return messages seeking comment on Monday.
Mr. Mendelson said he hasn’t made any decision about whether Mr. Evans will stay on the Committee on Finance and Revenue or who will replace him as chairman, but he said there won’t be a complete reorganization of committees and chairmanships.
The Metro Board investigation found that Mr. Evans‘ had knowingly violated the ethics rules by using his position on the board to benefit a client and friend, Rusty Lindner of Colonial Parking, for $50,000 a year.
Mr. Evans encouraged the inspector general to investigate a rival parking company, LAZ Parking, and shared Metro ridership information with Mr. Lindner.
The investigation also found that Mr. Evans used his position to benefit another client, Digi Outdoor Media.
However, the Metro Board’s ethics committee concluded that Mr. Evans committed only one violation of failing to disclose his conflict of interest.
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.