Metro Weekly

Gertrude Stein Democratic Club calls on Councilmember Jack Evans to resign

D.C. Council recently voted to remove LGBTQ ally as Finance Committee chair over alleged conflicts of interest

Jack Evans — Photo: Facebook

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the District’s largest LGBTQ political organization, is calling for D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) to resign from the Council.

The group also reiterated its call for Evans to resign from his position as National Committeeman of the DC Democratic Party, something it first proposed in March.

The club also called on the D.C. Council to remove Evans from all committees and deny him the ability to participate in any legislative or oversight matters in the Committee of the Whole.

On Tuesday, the Council voted 10-2 to indirectly remove Evans as chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, effectively dissolving the Finance Committee by assigning the agencies that would fall under its purview to different committees.

The Council’s vote to dissolve the Finance Committee, and Gertrude Stein’s call for the seven-term councilmember’s resignation, come in response to allegations that Evans attempted to use his influence as a city lawmaker to solicit work for his consulting firm, and that he failed to disclose relationships that his firm had with other companies with business before the Council.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson will appoint the law firm O’Melveny & Myers to investigate Evans’ conduct and determine if he committed any other conflicts of interest or ethical violations, reports the Washington City Paper.

“Jack, we recognize that you have been a steadfast ally to the LGBTQ community right from the start, and we thank you for all that you have done for us,” Monika Nemeth, the president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, said in an email sent to members and the media.

She noted that the resolution calling for Evans’ resignation passed the club unanimously, without any abstentions, during a meeting that was highly attended.

“We also feel that with the ongoing investigations, you are no longer able to be an effective advocate for your constituents or the District of Columbia,” Nemeth continued. “Therefore, we respectfully ask for you to resign and let the DC Government move on while you attend to your personal matters.”

In December 2018, The Washington Post reported that NSE Consulting, which Evans established in 2016, had received 200,000 shares of stock from Digi Outdoor Media, a digital sign company, just a month before Evans asked Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to establish emergency legislation benefitting the company.

The legislation, which ultimately never passed, would have allowed Digi to install large LED signs around D.C. commercial centers.

Digi, which was attempting to break into the market at the time, had attempted to place signs around the District, prompting D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) to file a complaint arguing that the company did not have the proper sign permits, reports The Washingtonian.

For his part, Evans told the Post that “the stock certificate was returned to Digi as soon as it was received.”

In March, the Post reported that Evans had allegedly emailed law firms representing clients with business before the D.C. government, offering to use his influence as a city lawmaker to assist them in achieving their goals.

Last month, Evans resigned from his position as chairman of the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after the Post released a private 20-page memo, conducted by a law firm hired by the Metro Board Ethics Committee, that looked into whether Evans had violated Metro’s ethical code by failing to disclose personal and consulting relationships to the board.

The memo looked at evidence relating to a number of potential conflicts of interest, including Evans’ relationship with Digi Media, and his efforts to pick up consulting work by marketing himself to law firms. But the investigators ultimately concluded that Evans committed only one violation: failing to disclose his relationship with his friend Rusty Linder, and Linder’s company, Colonial Parking.

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club’s resolution makes note of the the memo’s findings, noting that “the WMATA Ethics Committee subsequently cited Mr. Evans for a conflict of interest in violation of the WMATA ethics code for failing to disclose he was receiving $50,000 annually from Colonial Parking while participating in matters related to Colonial’s interests on the WMATA Board.” 

The resolution also notes that, even when questioned by two Council colleagues, he failed to disclose his business relationships that might serve as a conflict of interest.

It also expresses concerns over conflicts of interests he might have as a member of other committees — particularly the Judiciary Committee, “which has jurisdiction over the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, an agency that may well be called upon to consider campaign finance or other ethics issues arising out Mr. Evans’ activities described above or yet to be revealed in the pending Federal or promised Council investigations.”

However, Evans has previously defended himself, arguing that there were “many problems” with the Metro-hired law firm’s report, reports The Washington Times.

Among the problems he cited were the fact that the law firm in charge of the investigation never contacted Colonial Parking, and that the ethics committee only agreed with one of the 16 possible violations listed in the report.

A request for comment from Evans’ Council office in response to the Stein Club’s resolution was not returned as of press time.

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