DC Council cuts Jack Evans’ responsibilities amid federal probe

The D.C. Council moved Tuesday to reduce the power of Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans as he faces a federal investigation into influence peddling, if only slightly.

The council voted unanimously, by voice vote, to seize oversight of Events DC and the Commission on Arts and Humanities from Evans’ authority as chair of the Finance Committee. He retains his position of the committee though, and will continue to represent the council on the Metro Board.

“This resolution … completes what we started two weeks ago with regard to Councilman Evans and, in this case, jurisdiction and the rules,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said.

The council has been subpoenaed in the Evans probe.

While some people see this — coupled with a reprimand two weeks ago — as sufficient action, there are also those who see it as too light a response for a council member accused of inappropriately using his office to drum up business, Councilwoman Elissa Silverman said. 

“There is more we need to do to keep and strengthen faith in our government and integrity in our decision making,” Silverman said.

Just before the vote, Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau introduced a charter amendment to ban nearly all outside employment for council members.

“I want our residents to be confident that companies trying to business with the District aren’t also trying to do business with council members,” Nadeau said.

Six other council members are co-sponsoring the bill.

As council chairman, Phil Mendelson is banned from outside employment but other council members are not. If the council passes the measure, it would have to go to voters for approval.

Few elected positions in the region have such restrictions.

Separately, Councilman David Grosso introduced a bill that would overhaul constituent services funds — council members currently have wide latitude — to require the money actually help constituents in need.

Grosso cited a report that concluded current spending on things like sports tickets and mailers with funding from political donors makes the funds “inequitable and ethically fraught.”

“This legislation builds on the work undertaken in recent years to put our ethical house in order,” Grosso said.

Similar proposed changes were removed from a campaign finance bill passed last year.

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