Embattled DC council member Jack Evans fined $20K in ethics probe

D.C. Council member Jack Evans has agreed to pay a hefty fine in connection to an ethics investigation which found he used his position as a lawmaker for personal gain.

The D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability delivered a $20,000 fine for the longtime D.C. lawmaker after it said he used the prestige of his office for personal gain.

As a federal investigation into the lawmaker — which included an FBI raid on his Georgetown home in June — continues, the investigation by the board centered on just two emails sent by Evans’ chief of staff, one in January 2015 and the other in January 2018.

In the emails, Evans sought employment from two law firms in the D.C. area. In proposals attached to the messages, Evans outlined how he could use “his tenure, accomplishments and stature as Councilmember and Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue … to generate business for the law firms.”

Evans was also accused of touting his connections as chair of Metro’s board.

The Washington Post first obtained the emails used in the investigation. Evans’ office released a statement on the settlement.

“Councilmember Jack Evans today agreed to a consent settlement with the Board of Government Ethics and Accountability (BEGA) to resolve BEGA’s concerns regarding the issues involving the D.C. Council’s March 19, 2019 reprimand over his use of official time and resources to transmit a business proposal to two D.C. law firms to which he applied, and the use of prestige of office or public position for private gain. Councilmember Evans, while not admitting any violation of the D.C. Council Code of Conduct, recognizes that these issues needed resolution in order to avoid a protracted and costly dispute resolution process.”

In March, Evans was reprimanded by the city council and stripped of his spot on the finance committee. Evans also stepped down from his top spot on Metro’s governing body.

In coming to an agreement, the ethics board said it considered several factors submitted by Evans. Among the considerations was Evans’ claim that he intended for his chief of staff to send the emails from a personal email and not his council account.

Evans’ legal team also claimed the language in the emails should be characterized as Evans “puffing” his contacts and experience as a public official in an exchange between attorneys — something Evans’ attorneys believe did not violate the rules.

In the end, the board hit Evans with the violation of using government resources for something other than official business, because the lawmaker requested his chief of staff send the personal emails during their regular working hours.

The board also accused Evans of using the prestige of his office of personal gain, violations it said could have resulted in a $30,000 fine.

Evans must pay the fine by next August, and he must also complete an ethics training course.

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