- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Metro Board of Directors on Thursday elected Paul Smedberg as its new chairman to replace Jack Evans, who has left the panel mired an ethics scandal.

The board also elected Michael Goldman, a transportation lawyer who represents Maryland, as second vice chair.

Mr. Smedberg, a Democrat on the Alexandria City Council who represents Virginia, said Thursday that the first vice chair will be reserved for a representative from the District.

Tom Bulger, the District’s alternate board member, will fill that position until the D.C. Council selects another representative.

The District is losing one of its two representatives with Mr. Evans‘ resignation, which he announced last week following a Washington Post story about a report from the law firm that investigated him.

The law firm identified several ethic violations by Mr. Evans, but Metro’s ethics committee cite only one — that he knowingly failed to disclose his business relationship with Colonial Parking, a Metro contractor.

But Mr. Evans, who also represents Ward 2 on the D.C. Council, had said the committee found no violations against him.

Critics blasted the ethics committee for its secrecy, for not keeping minutes of its meetings and for not releasing a report on its findings.

David Horner, a federal representative on the board, said it is “wrong and unfair” to call the actions of the ethics committee secretive. He questioned, though, whether the board is the appropriate venue for investigating a member’s “malfeasance.”

“At the end of the day, we’re a transit agency,” Mr. Horner said.

“The code of conduct that was put in place, was put in place in good faith,” said Clarence Crawford, a Maryland representative on the board. “But you know, sometimes, you just don’t know how the process is going to work until you use it.”

Messrs. Smedberg, Horner and Crawford wrote a letter on behalf of the ethics committee to the board detailing how future ethics investigations can be held more accountable. It suggested that:

⦁ The ethics panel have an odd number of members to avoid a tie vote.

⦁ The committee be required to produce a report on its findings.

⦁ The code of conduct be updated to include a standard for evidence.

⦁ The board vote on a resolution to close an ethics case.

⦁ The Metro inspector general automatically do an independent review of all ethics investigations.

⦁ Financial disclosure forms be posted online for public inspection.

Corbett Price, the District’s other Metro Board representative and a member of the ethics committee, did not sign the letter. He attended Thursday’s meeting via phone.

Mr. Price also has been criticized for falsely saying the committee did not find any ethics violations against Mr. Evans, whose home in Georgetown was raided by FBI agents last Friday as part of a federal investigation into his activities.

Mr. Evans has criticized the investigative report, telling his D.C. Council colleagues on Tuesday that neither he nor the board had seen it before The Post published its story about it last Thursday.

He is scheduled to meet council members at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to be questioned about the ethics investigation. The council is considering removing him from his chairmanship of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.

Mr. Evans is the council’s longest-serving lawmaker.

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