- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Jack Evans announced his resignation from the D.C. Council on Tuesday, closing a chapter in a monthslong saga over his ethics violations.

His announcement rendered moot the council’s effort to expel him from office, but the District’s longest-serving lawmaker still might face charges from a federal investigation of his activities.

“After nearly 30 years of public service in the District of Columbia, I have advised the Board of Elections that I resign my position as the Ward 2 Council member on the Council of the District of Columbia, as of the close of business on Friday January 17, 2020,” Mr. Evans wrote in his letter of resignation.

The Ward 2 Democrat submitted his resignation to council Chairman Phil Mendelson just minutes before fellow lawmakers were to begin a hearing to expel Mr. Evans.

“I think that this is the right decision for Mr. Evans to have made,” said Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat. “It saves the council from going through more time and distraction from the business we ought to be doing. I also think this is an important step in restoring integrity in the institution and the trust of the public.”

The expulsion hearing was recessed until after Jan. 17, when Mr. Evans’ resignation takes effect. Mr. Mendelson said he would keep Mr. Evans’ staff on council payroll for a couple of months until they can secure other employment.

Council member Mary M. Cheh, who chaired the ad hoc committee that reviewed an ethics investigation of Mr. Evans, said “despite his excellent career over many years, it was marred by such serious compromise of ethics that we had to take this step” to expel him.

Ms. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, said Tuesday was “a sad day for the council and Mr. Evans himself.”

The D.C. Board of Elections is scheduled to hold a meeting Wednesday in which it will certify the vacancy for the Ward 2 seat on the council and schedule a special election to fill it.

The Democratic primary race for Mr. Evans’ seat already has six candidates: Patrick Kennedy, Daniel Hernandez, John Fanning, Jordan Grossman, Kishan Putta and Yilin Zhang.

“Jack Evans’ resignation was long overdue, but it’s only the beginning,” Mr. Grossman said in a written statement. “We need a clean break from Evans and those that kept him in power for years despite the fact that his corruption was common knowledge. We need a clean break from a DC political culture where following the rules seems to be optional if you have enough money or insider connections, or where public officials seem to believe maintaining access to power is more important than the needs and concerns of their neighbors.”

Before its summer recess, the council hired O’Melveny & Myers to investigate Mr. Evans. The law firm’s 97-page report said Mr. Evans, over a five-year period, violated the conflict of interest provision of the code of conduct multiple times by using his position on the council to take action that benefited clients of his consulting firm or the law firm where he worked.

The report also said he failed to disclose his business relationships and accepted payments of $400,000 from his clients for virtually no work.

The ad hoc committee, which consisted of the entire 13-member council except Mr. Evans, voted unanimously last month to recommend that he be expelled.

Throughout the investigation, Mr. Evans and his legal team maintained his innocence. They said that he did not intend to violate the ethics code and that his positions on legislation were pre-established, coincided with the public interest and were independent of his clients’ interests.

But his standing among his peers already was tenuous. Earlier last year, the council stripped him of his longtime chairmanship of the Finance and Revenue Committee and divided that panel’s oversight among other committees.

Meanwhile, an investigation last year by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s board of directors uncovered several ethical lapses by Mr. Evans during his tenure as one of Metro’s directors. He did not seek reelection as the board’s chairman and was not reappointed to the board.

Federal agents raided Mr. Evans’ home and offices last summer.

Though many of his council colleagues called for his resignation, Mr. Evans resisted. Initially elected in 1991, he is the first city lawmaker to come so close to being expelled since the District was granted home rule in 1973.

Michael A. Brown lost his council seat in a 2012 election before pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. Chairman Kwame R. Brown resigned and pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2012. Harry Thomas Jr. resigned from the council and pleaded guilty in 2012 to stealing $350,000 from youth sports programs.

After submitting his resignation, Mr. Evans, 66, left the Wilson Building without speaking to reporters or other lawmakers. There was some speculation about his future in city politics.

“He will still be a player in the D.C. government,” said Adam Eidinger, a Ward 2 activist who led a recall effort against Mr. Evans. “He can probably go do that consulting job now if he is not indicted, but I think crimes were committed.”

Mr. Eidinger said city residents “are entering a new era of accountability and ethics in District government. The voters here are demanding it.”

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