When it comes to D.C. politics, Jack Evans is pretty much a household name, and he earned the recognition.
He’s been a member of the D.C. Council since 1991, when he won a special election, and he won his most recent re-election campaign in 2016.
It’s unlikely, though, that “Run, Jack, Run” — Team Evans’ rallying cry in the 1998 mayoral race — will be heard again.
Federal law enforcers have subpoenaed Mayor Muriel Bowser, all 13 members of the council, City Administrator Rashad Young and several clients of Mr. Evans‘ private law practice — and the focus of the probe is Mr. Evans.
The longtime council member is suspecting of using his political ties to solicit money for personal and/or political efforts and extolled his political connections and savoir faire.
Mr. Evans certainly has the connections: He is the chairman of the largest mass transit agency in the region and leads the council’s Finance and Revenue Committee. As Ward 2’s representative, his constituents stretch from Georgetown straight through the city’s central business district, commonly known as downtown. It’s also home to, ahem, City Hall.
That Mr. Evans is suspected of sending out his tentacles from D.C. government leaves nothing to the imagination. The feds have traced such wrongdoing before.
What’s intriguing is that Jack (if I may use the familiar) is not an ignorant man. Indeed, he graduated cum laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; earned a law degree at the University of Pittsburgh; married a lovely smart woman, Noel; and managed to raise their triplets as a single parent after she died of breast cancer in 2003.
He also helped write the council’s ethics reform package in 2011 and saw four of his council colleagues gnarled in illegal or unethical goings-on.
What’s more, Jack is the man who would hit Wall Street to get the good and the bad news regarding D.C. finances, which wallowed in red ink for more than a decade. He ran twice for mayor.
So, ignorant he is not. Stupid? Perhaps, since he knew better than to take his CV and stakeholders’ trust to go job hunting.
Corruption and questionable ethics almost — almost — killed democracy in the nation’s capital, so much so until voters were on a record-setting pace on special elections for some seat or another.
Since the beginning of the home rule era in the 1960s, Democrats have been running the show. Things changed a bit after the Republican-run House fixed conservative eyes on City Hall with a financial control board. Lawmakers pitched a booger, of course, and bow-tie wearing Tony Williams was given control of the city’s finances, and eventually became a two-term mayor. He deserves much of the credit Miss Bowser and the council want to pat themselves on the back for.
The Evans probe — the federal Evans probe — casts several new clouds that, again, hover over City Hall.
So, the denizens of City Hall need to return to basics.
First, the council, with or without the blessings of Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, mustn’t conduct an investigation. Each lawmaker has been subpoenaed, and in a way that means some of their staff have been as well. The rule of thumb: Speak no evil, hear no evil. And they had best remember that Michael Cohen unhinged the doors to attorney-client privilege, those built with private money and those built with public dollars.
The last thing D.C. voters and taxpayers need to worry about is what Council member David Grosso thinks can come from a council probe. The council did not probe him or Miss Bowser for blatantly shortchanging poor black and brown kids of their quality education.
Most important is what Mr. Evans should do, which obviously is resign.
Mr. Evans should resign because he conceded as much: “I’m totally sorry for letting everyone down,” He told journalist and author Jonetta Rose Barras. “It was a mistake. I’m going to do the best I can representing my constituents and hope that they will forgive me.”
Yes, it was a “mistake,” especially by a man who was positioned to become the first elected white, male mayor of the federal city.
Now, though, you’re a member of the Potomac 3, another Democrat who can do as he pleases, apologize and refuse to step out of your way. Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring are you companions. (And, Jack, you know I like you.)
It’s time for Mr. Evans to say bye-bye. It was a good long run.
Now it’s time for self-term limits.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]
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