The D.C. Council made public Tuesday an investigative report that notes nearly a dozen ethics violations by Council member Jack Evans after a copy of the report had been leaked to The Washington Post.
Council member Mary Cheh, chair of the ad hoc committee reviewing the 97-page report, said its findings about Mr. Evans‘ business dealings reflect “a bit of arrogance or willful blindness to ethical requirements.”
“We are all entitled to be disgusted by what we read in that report,” Ms. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, said Tuesday at a press conference.
The report by the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers concluded that Mr. Evans made some efforts to avoid ethical issues, “but his overall approach was inadequate and based on a ‘I know it when I see it’ standard rather than an adherence to the actual provisions” of the council’s code of conduct.
The council hired O’Melveny & Myers to investigate the Ward 2 Democrat in July, after a Metro probe found that Mr. Evans had committed an ethical lapse during his tenure a chairman of the transit agency’s board of directors.
Mr. Evans‘ legal team issued a 67-page rebuttal to the investigative report Tuesday.
“There was no evidence or conclusion of tying financial gain to official acts or Mr. Evans changing a position to benefit a client. In fact, the report unfairly ignores completely examples of when Mr. Evans opposed the interest of clients,” wrote attorneys Abbe Lowell of Winston and Strawn and Mark Tuohey of BakerHostetler.
The rebuttal says that Mr. Evans helped clients who also were his constituents; that his policy positions were preestablished, determined by public interest; that his legislative actions were take independently of his clients’ interests; and that the report misrepresents what Mr. Evans said during 12 hours of interviews with the law firm.
The investigative report notes 11 instances since 2014 in which Mr. Evans used his office to benefit his personal business endeavors and several instances in which he didn’t violate the council’s code of conduct.
O’Melveny & Myers pointed out that man of Mr. Evans‘ former clients asserted their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves or declined to cooperate with the investigation. Consequently, the law firm said it could not complete a comprehensive list of legislation that benefited the clients of Mr. Evans‘ consulting firm, NSE Consulting.
According to the report, Mr. Evans received $400,000 from his consulting clients for doing “little or no documented work.”
Ms. Cheh said it was “blood boiling” to read that Mr. Evans pushed for the merger between electricity supplier Pepco and energy generator Exelon while seeking a job at the law firm handling the merger — Manatt, Phelps & Phillips — and touting his ability to land Exelon as a client.
However, Mr. Evans had pushed for the merger before securing the new job.
He also organized several meetings between his clients and government officials, including separate meetings involving Council member Kenyan McDuffie’s office with representatives of EastBanc Technologies and Willco Construction.
Council members Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau and David Grosso have called for the resignation of Mr. Evans, the District’s longest-serving lawmaker.
“It’s very clear at this point that in the realm, which is a very large realm, of ethical conduct, that Mr. Evans has obliterated the public trust and that will speak as well for the trust of his colleagues,” Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said at Tuesday’s press conference.
If the committee votes to move forward without further investigation, it will hear from Mr. Evans at its following meeting.
At subsequent meetings, the committee will consider the report, all related documents from the O’Melveny investigation and the Metro probe. Lawmakers will discuss disciplinary action and then vote on them to be presented to the full council.
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