In the midst of an ethics storm and federal investigation, D.C. Council member Jack Evans is set Tuesday to lose his powerful role as Finance Committee chair.
The council is expected to vote to remove Evans from the chairmanship and separately to authorize the hiring of a law firm to investigate whether Evans violated council rules by using his public office for personal gain or to benefit his clients.
A council committee would review the findings of the investigation starting in late September.
“I understand my responsibility as an elected official in accepting the review that has been occurring and decisions being made, although with sadness and with humility,” Evans said in a statement. He still plans to remain in office.
The embattled councilman was already forced to resign from the Metro Board after he misled his colleagues and the public about the outcome of an ethics investigation there that found a conflict of interest over Evans’ relationship with Colonial Parking. Evans agreed to amend disclosure forms and to not seek another term as Metro Board chair.
Federal agents raided Evans’ home last month, and he has been kicked off an annual D.C. government trip this week to meet with bond rating agencies in New York.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson expects the law firm’s investigation over the next two months will focus on possible violations of the council’s code of conduct, while trying to avoid any interference with the federal criminal investigation.
Evans tried to restrict council questions last week to his issues as a Metro Board member.
“I, in no way, feel bound by the limitations that Mr. Evans put on himself when he spoke to the council members last week,” Mendelson said.
Council member David Grosso called Monday on Evans to resign from the council entirely, due to repeated lies to the public and fellow council members.
In the same vein, Council member Elissa Silverman has proposed kicking Corbett Price, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s appointee to the Metro Board, off the board due to his untrue statements that Evans had been cleared by the internal Metro investigation. It is not clear that measure has the votes needed to pass at this point.
The D.C. Council has yet to fill Evans’ seat on the Metro Board. Mendelson expects to have a new appointee ready for approval at the council’s following meeting, which is not until Sept. 17. The District’s two alternates are allowed to fill in for vacancies.
Other big votes
Aside from the Metro-related actions, the D.C. Council has several other key measures on its agenda Tuesday.
A major sports gambling contract that Evans has been a key supporter of also comes before the council. The sole-source contract was meant to accelerate app-based sports betting in the District, while limiting it only to an app controlled by the D.C. Lottery. The deal also included changes for the existing lottery setup.
Questions have been raised not only about the details of the deal and political connections of subcontractors, but also about Evans’ connections to a key lobbyist who worked to support the contract. That lobbyist helped Evans set up a consulting company that contributed to Evans’ ethical issues.
If the contract is not approved Tuesday, the procurement process would start from scratch, which Mendelson said could delay a D.C. Lottery gambling app by up to two years.
In another potentially significant vote, the council considers the outlines of future development rules for the District.
The comprehensive plan has been used in lawsuits by people who have successfully slowed or blocked housing and commercial projects, large or small. Tuesday’s vote is the first of two on the framework of the comprehensive plan.
More detailed land use map updates and other pieces of the plan are due to be introduced later this year.
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