An open letter requesting Washington, D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) step down as National Committeeman of the D.C. Democratic Party was published March 6, following allegations that he misused his position to solicit corporate deals.

Evans is the councilmember who represents the neighbourhoods including Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom, among other areas.

The letter, addressed to Evans, was signed by 23 members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee after accusations that Evans used his position in government leadership to solicit business deals from private firms publicly surfaced Feb. 28.

@JACK EVANS WARD 2/TWITTER | Washington, D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) was asked to resign amid allegations that he abused his role in government to obtain corporate deals.

A grand jury subpoenaed documents relating to legislation benefiting Digi Outdoor Media, a digital commercial advertising firm, last September. Evans said he returned money and stock shares that he received from the digital sign company before introducing the legislation in a text message to The Washington Post.

Evans should step down because his compromised reputation will jeopardize the momentum of legislation addressing important D.C. issues such as statehood, according to Zachary Israel, a D.C. Young Democrats national committeeman. Israel signed the open letter to Evans.

“There are many individuals who are better able to serve and represent us on the Democratic National Committee, and the time has come for him to do the right thing and step down for the good of the party,” Israel wrote in an email to The Hoya.

D.C. Working Families, a progressive advocacy group that seeks to raise living standards for working families, drafted and released a petition March 6 calling for Evans to be stripped of his chairmanship of the Committee on Finance and Revenue. The petition also requested Evans be removed from his position on the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety.

The focus on Evans has distracted from D.C. efforts for initiatives such as the push for statehood, and have jeopardized voter trust in the Democratic party, according to the letter.

“The clouds growing over your alleged activities complicate efforts to win D.C. Statehood, determine D.C.’s position in the primary calendar and restore the faith of D.C. voters that their local Democratic Party leadership puts their interests first,” the letter read.

A representative from Evans’ office declined to comment on the accusations.

The allegations and open letter have received mixed responses. President of D.C. Young Democrats Marcus Goodwin said the letter was premature because the allegations against Evans have not yet received a comprehensive investigation, according to The Washington Post.

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D) announced he would reprimand Evans in a March 5 news release. However, Mendelson did not call for Evans to resign.

“Our Code of Conduct states explicitly that a Councilmember ‘may not knowingly use the prestige of office or public position for [his] private gain,’ and that government resources shall not be used for personal business,” Mendelson said. “This reprimand will send a clear message that Mr. Evans’ actions are not only unacceptable but are inconsistent with the Council’s ethical standards.”

Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) disapproved of Mendelson’s plan to reprimand Evans, calling for a special council investigation into Evans’ alleged wrongdoing in a March 5 news release.

“Chairman Mendelson’s proposed reprimand of Councilmember Evans is merely a slap on the wrist, allowing the Council to check a box and move on,” Grosso said. “It stops short of any real accountability as Councilmember Evans will remain at the helm of the powerful Finance and Revenue Committee from which he peddled his influence using the prestige of his office.”

A full investigation is unnecessary because Evans’ emails to businesses clearly demonstrated a violation of conduct, according to Mendelson.

“Some have suggested that I should appoint a special committee to investigate the matter,. However, there is no question whether Mr. Evans’ emails violated the Council’s Code of Conduct, and therefore waiting for an investigation would be an unnecessary delay,” Mendelson said in the news release.

Evans’ behavior reflects poorly on the councils’ public image and makes it impossible for him to continue in his position, according to the letter.

“The Council cannot afford to have decisions made by a committee as consequential as Finance and Revenue continue to be marred by questions of impropriety or influence peddling,” the letter said. “The Council also cannot have someone who is under grand jury investigation overseeing government ethics via a post on the Judiciary committee.”

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