- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2020

House Republicans are requesting that Jack Evans be invited to provide closed-door testimony about his ethical transgressions as a member of the D.C. Council and the Metro Board as a precondition for considering statehood for the District.

GOP Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina issued the request in a letter Monday to Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat and chairwoman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The Washington Times has obtained a copy of the letter.

“As the Chairwoman of the Committee with jurisdiction over interstate compacts and D.C., you have an obligation to investigate credible allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse at WMATA,” Mr. Jordan and Mr. Meadows wrote, using the acronym for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority. “Furthermore, fully understanding Evans’s disturbing ethical transgressions as the WMATA Board Chair and a D.C. Councilmember is a necessary precondition to the Committee considering legislation related to D.C. statehood.”

SEE ALSO: View House Republicans' letter to Metro on Jack Evans

But D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said he doesn’t see how or why Mr. Evans‘ scandal would affect the District’s bid to become the 51st state.

“I’m not sure what relevance former councilmember Evans has for oversight at this point in time, if that is the issue. If the issue is Statehood, the actions of one elected official should not decide the enfranchisement of more than 700,000 U.S. citizens,” said Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat. “Moreover, if ethical purity were a prerequisite for statehood, there would be no states in the union. But, we acted on the ethics, and Mr. Evans has resigned.”

Mr. Evans resigned from the D.C. Council this month after his fellow lawmakers had moved to expel him over numerous ethical violations detailed in an investigative report last year. He did not seek to retain the chairmanship of the Metro Board of Directors last year after a transit agency investigation found he had violated ethical standards several times during his tenure. D.C. officials did not reappoint Mr. Evans to the board.

“The Jack Evans scandal is a big black mark on the District’s government at a time when it is trying to sell Congress on the idea of statehood,” a House Republican spokesperson said as to why his scandal should preclude D.C. statehood. “Democrats may prefer to ignore Evans’s wrongdoing and make a false equivalence to problems in other states. Trouble is, those other states are not seeking statehood and those issues aren’t at all relevant to D.C. statehood.”

Mr. Jordan and Mr. Meadows, both senior members of the House Oversight committee, have unsuccessfully urged committee Democrats for several months to invite Metro officials and Mr. Evans to testify.

During a hearing on D.C. statehood in September, Mr. Jordan asked the committee to hold a “minority day” hearing for Republicans to invite their own witnesses. Metro officials such as Senior Vice President Lynn Bowersox, Board Secretary Jennifer Ellison and Metro Counsel Patricia Lee had declined the committee’s invitation, saying they had no expertise regarding statehood for the District.

“We have responded to the Republicans’ requests many times before, both in person and in writing,” a senior Democratic committee aide said in a written statement. “As we have explained, we held our hearing on WMATA already, and we are now awaiting the results of the Inspector General investigation we requested before considering future action. … Contrary to the Republicans’ letter, their ‘minority day of hearings’ complied fully with House rules and was on exactly the same topic as the original hearing at which it was requested.”

The Oversight Committee is considering H.R.51 — Washington, D.C. Admission Act — which D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, introduced last January. It would rename the District as the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, and authorize D.C. voters to elect two senators and a representative.

Ms. Norton, a Democrat, did not respond to a request for comment.

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