Washington, D.C. has a long and ignominious history of local corruption scandals. So it takes uniquely outrageous conduct to capture the attention of my fellow Washingtonians. Jack Evans’ recent antics have managed to do just that.
First, a little background. Jack Evans was the D.C. Council’s longest serving councilmember (from May 1991 to January 2020). He also sat on the board of Metro (the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority).
In 2016, Evans created his own consulting firm, NSE. In 2018, the Washington Post reported that a digital sign company issued NSE 200,000 shares of stock just before Evans promoted legislation that would have benefited the company. It also reported $50,000 in checks the same company tried to pay Evans’ firm “several months before [Evans] circulated a bill that would have aided the sign business in a dispute with District regulators.”
In 2019, the Washington Post reported that several of Evans’ consulting clients had business before the D.C. Council. In June 2019, Evans resigned from his seat on the Metro board after an investigation found that he “‘knowingly’ violated ethics rules to help friends and clients rather than serve the interests of the transit agency.”
In November of 2019, an outside law firm retained by the D.C. Council to investigate Evans found that “Evans repeatedly used his office on behalf of private clients who paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars, failing to recognize the conflicts and never properly disclosing the payments.”
A month later, the D.C. Council unanimously voted to recommend that Evans be expelled from office.
A month after the unanimous vote by his colleagues, Evans finally resigned from his seat, effective January 17, 2020. After he resigned, Evans fooled everyone into believing this was the final chapter of his lengthy, albeit sordid, career in DC politics.
Sadly …that wasn’t the case.
Ten days after Evans formally stepped down, he filed paperwork with the D.C. Board of Elections to run for his old seat. Yes, that old seat. The one he held for 29 years before resigning in disgrace. And the one that D.C. taxpayers are paying $1 million to fill via special election. To add insult to injury, he is asking taxpayers to fund his reelection bid as well.
So where does this leave the citizens of D.C.? There are no legal mechanisms to stop him and, disturbingly enough, some voters have even indicated that they will “vote for him again because of his institutional knowledge of city government, pro-business leanings and steadfast constituent services.”
Evans’ latest actions make abundantly clear that you can’t shame a person into “doing the right thing” if they are seemingly incapable of feeling shame.
It is now up to the voters in Ward 2 to decide Evans’ political fate. Will they continue to reward ethically compromised individuals with positions of political power, or will they use their votes to elect individuals with integrity and a commitment to ethics? I guess we will have to wait until June to find out.