DC Council’s Jack Evans fights back, asks to make his case before removal vote

Four days after FBI agents searched his home, D.C. Councilman Jack Evans returned to work Tuesday, telling his colleagues during a breakfast meeting he deserved a chance to fight for his Finance Committee chairmanship.

He asked Chairman Phil Mendelson for a chance to make his case before any action is taken.

“As you stated in the press conference yesterday, taking away a council member’s committee is a drastic action,” Evans said. “By any standards of due process or fairness, I have the right to present my side of the story and to answer any questions from my fellow council members before any action is taken.”

“I believe that if my colleagues hear my side of the story, and I respond to all of your questions, you will not take any action at this time,” he added.

Mendelson said he was amenable to scheduling a meeting for the morning of July 2, a week before the council’s scheduled July 9 vote on Evans’ removal from the Finance Committee chairmanship.

“He wants to be heard,” Mendelson told reporters. “He believes there’s another side to the story — his side — that it’s important that we hear that.”

“I think that’s reasonable,” said Mendelson, who said he was not aware Evans would make the request.

After telling his colleagues that he intended to answer all their questions, Evans said nothing to reporters.

Evans — who is under federal investigation over accusations that he used his positions on the D.C. Council and Metro Board for personal gain — hadn’t commented on Friday’s FBI search of his Georgetown home.

He was supposed to chair a Finance Committee meeting Wednesday on sports betting, but Mendelson said he would take the helm instead.

Mendelson has said that the council might remove Evans from the committee entirely.

Evans was reprimanded back in March due to ethics concerns.

The council is also set to launch its own internal investigation. Mendelson said Monday that an independent law firm will handle it.

“Members and the public were told that there was no finding of a violation by the Metro ethics committee when, in fact, there was,” Mendelson said. “And I don’t think that that misstatement can be minimized.”

Mendelson said several of his colleagues had expressed feelings of betrayal. Asked whether he felt betrayed, he said: “I understand that sentiment exactly. Yes, I do.”

Evans, who represents Ward 2, released a letter last Thursday saying he would resign from the Metro Board next week amid a flurry of calls to step down.

He had previously agreed not to seek another term as Metro Board chairman, and to update years of disclosure forms, after the Metro Board’s Ethics Committee found he violated conflict of interest rules.

WTOP’s Jack Pointer contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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