Embattled D.C. Council member Jack Evans defended himself Tuesday amid a growing ethics scandal, telling his legislative colleagues that a law firm’s report about his conduct “has many problems.”
Addressing fellow lawmakers at the legislative breakfast meeting, Mr. Evans said that neither he nor the Metro Board of Directors had seen the report from the law firm that conducted an ethics investigation for Metro before The Washington Post published a story about it on Thursday.
The report said that Mr. Evans, the board’s chairman, knowingly failed to disclose to the transit agency his business relationship with Metro contractor Colonial Parking and that he used his position as chairman to have Metro’s inspector general investigate LAZ Parking, a competitor of Colonial Parking.
In the aftermath of the report’s publication, the FBI raided Mr. Evans’ home, the council’s chairman said he plans to hire a law firm to investigate him and the council is scheduled to vote next month to remove him as chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.
Mr. Evans, who repeatedly has denied any wrongdoing, said Tuesday that the investigative report “of which the council is basing its action has many problems.” The Ward 2 Democrat listed his criticisms of the report, saying:
⦁ The report was written 13 days after the ethics investigation was completed.
⦁ The law firm that conducted the investigation did not contact Colonial Parking.
⦁ Of the 16 possible violations listed in the report, Metro’s ethics committee only agreed with one of them.
“We never had an opportunity to look at it, to respond to the concerns raised in it, and without that, any action taken by this council, I believe, is premature,” Mr. Evans told his colleagues.
Mr. Evans, the council’s longest-serving lawmaker, said last week that he would resign from the Metro Board, after having announced he would not seek the chairmanship again when his term ends Sunday.
He said Tuesday that he understands Council Chairman Phil Mendelson’s decision to not pursue a Board of Ethics and Governmental Accountability probe, which would be start a lengthy process. But Mr. Evans requested that he be given the opportunity for due process.
Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat, scheduled a 9:30 a.m. meeting next Tuesday for council members to ask Mr. Evans anything about the investigation, from its start in January 2018 to Friday’s FBI raid of his home in Georgetown.
Mr. Evans told some colleagues before Tuesday’s meeting that he was in the shower when the raid began and that the boxes that agents carried out of his home were actually empty.
The FBI declined to comment about the raid.
“The FBI was present in the Georgetown area last Friday to conduct court-authorized law enforcement activity. We can’t confirm any additional details,” a bureau representative said in an email.
Council member Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, said that Mr. Evans “appropriately” asked to have an opportunity to respond and that she is “rooting for Council member Evans to be able to put things right and if he does, then hallelujah.”
However, last week she described his actions as delineated in the report as “straight up corruption.”
Mr. Mendelson announced Monday at a press briefing that the council will be hiring a law firm to investigate Mr. Evans and that its findings would be made public.
Metro board started its investigation in March after The Post published emails in which Mr. Evans said he was using his influence as a public official as a selling point to prospective employers. The council removed some of his committee responsibilities but did not launch an investigation.
A federal grand jury has been looking into Mr. Evans for using his position as an elected official to help a client, Digi Outdoor Media.
Mr. Evans did not respond Tuesday to questions from reporters.