Former Washington, D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans filed Jan. 27 to join special election for the seat he vacated when he resigned a week prior amid investigations into ethics violations.
After spending 29 years representing Ward 2 on the council, the council commissioned a report that found Evans had committed 11 ethical violations stemming from his legal and consulting work outside of the council. The council then voted unanimously to oust Evans; however, he resigned before the expulsion process could be finalized. Evans also filed to join the Ward 2 primary race held every four years.
Evans is additionally the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, which led to a June raid of his Georgetown home.
Investigations into Evans and his eventual resignation have weakened the public’s relationship with the council, according to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. The chairman declined to support Evans’ bid because he considered it damaging to the council’s ongoing effort to improve its reputation with the District, Mendelson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“The Council needs to rebuild the public’s trust. It would be a setback to rebuilding that trust if he came on the Council so soon after we nearly expelled him,” Mendelson wrote.
All 12 sitting councilmembers issued a joint statement condemning Evans’ decision to enter the race as unwise and disrespectful, according to DCist.
“All of us agreed to expel Jack Evans from the DC Council after an exhaustive investigation found numerous violations of our Code of Conduct,” the councilmembers wrote. “His decision to run for Ward 2 Councilmember again, which we do not and cannot support, shows a willful and arrogant disregard for ethics and is not in the best interests of the District.”
If Evans were to win back his former seat, the council would again consider calling for his resignation, Councilmember Robert White (D-At Large) said to Washington City Paper.
“I think the options are calling for his resignation or reformation of the ad hoc committee,” White said. “But unfortunately I now need to think through this ridiculous scenario to make sure Jack Evans is held accountable for his actions in office and also does not further tarnish the reputation of the city.”
Evans joined the council in 1991. Since then, Evans has served on the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, and the Committee on Business and Economic Development, among other committees.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has long worked with Evans on various initiatives. The pair recently drew public attention as they participated together in Lunar New Year celebrations Jan. 26 despite Evans’ ethics violations and recent resignation. Once Evans announced his entry into the council’s special election and primary, however, Bowser called upon Evans to consider the implications of his decision.
“I think he knows very clearly how I feel about getting on with the business of the District,” Bowser said in a news briefing. “We should all call on Jack to do not what’s best for Jack, but what’s best for the District of Columbia.”
Throughout the ethics inquiries and investigations, Evans has long been unpopular among Georgetown University College Democrats leadership. GUCD stands by their position that Evans was right to resign and his choice to run again is a mistake, according to GUCD Chair AJ Williamson (COL ’21).
“GUCD does not support Evans’s decision to run again for his old seat,” Williamson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Our organization condemned his ethical violations, and we were happy to see him do the right thing by resigning.”
Evans now enters a crowded primary race including three Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners: John Fanning (D-2F), Kishan Putta (D-2E) Patrick Kennedy (D-2A). Former Obama administration official Jordan Grossman, Marine Corps veteran Daniel Hernandez and health care executive Yilin Zhang, are also primary contenders. Each primary candidate has also filed for the special election alongside Republican Katherine Venice, an investment manager.
A special election to fill Ward 2’s open seat will be held June 16, with the winner serving until January 2021. The Democratic primary for the Ward 2 seat will be held June 2.