Guest Column: Federal Investigation of Jack Evans Is Not Over
By John Hanrahan, Ward 2 Resident
The following commentary was first published in the Dupont Forum May 9, 2020 after an investigation found that former Councilmember Jack Evans violated D.C. Council ethics rules 11 times since 2014 and earned $400,000 from clients deemed "prohibited sources." A federal investigation is ongoing. Georgetown and Ward 2 residents vote June 2.
Lest we forget, the federal investigation of Jack Evans has not concluded. A question I would like some reporter covering the Ward 2 campaign to ask Mr. Evans is this: Has the U.S. attorney informed you one way or the other where the investigation currently stands? Have you or your lawyers received or requested a letter from the U.S. Attorney stating that no indictment will be forthcoming? A request for such a letter is fairly standard practice in high-profile white-collar criminal cases. One can bet that if he had such assurance from the U.S. Attorney that Mr. Evans would be telling the world about it. The fact that he has not done so means that he has no such assurance at this point. And neither do we, the Ward 2 voters and all citizens of the District of Columbia.
Remember that the investigation of then-Mayor Vincent Gray dragged on well past the 2014 election that he lost to Muriel Bowser, and concluded a year later in December 2015 with a public announcement by the U.S. Attorney that there would be no further indictments in the case. All in all, the investigation into Gray and his 2010 campaign had gone on for four-and-a-half years – and that case was relatively simple and straightforward compared to the Evans case, which involves multiple allegations of using his public office for private gain relating to DigiMedia, Eagle Bank, and a whole slew of other pay-for-play clients. The investigation of Marion Barry went on for some seven years and they never did charge him with the alleged public corruption for which they were investigating him, but rather with numerous drug charges which resulted in his conviction on one of the charges.
Assume the worst (and it is the worst, for reasons various contributors to this forum have stated): Evans wins the primary, and sometime after the primary or maybe even after the general election when he is sworn in, a federal grand jury indicts Evans. And then we go through this whole sordid mess again.
Even without an indictment, the record of official wrongdoing committed by Jack Evans, as voluminously documented and acted on by official bodies, constitutes overwhelming evidence of why Mr. Evans is unfit to serve on the D.C. Council.
For example, there was the D.C. Council’s and its outside counsel’s investigation (which resulted in a unanimous council vote to expel Evans from office, and Evans’s subsequent resignation); the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ethics board’s investigation (whose outside counsel found multiple violations by Evans of WMATA’s conflicts of interest rules, and which were so serious they forced Evans’s resignation as chairman and member of WMATA’s board); the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (which fined Evans $20,000 for various BEGA Code of Conduct violations and, as reported as recently as three months ago, BEGA told the Council in an open meeting that it had resumed a paused investigation into Evans’s dealings with former private client DigiMedia).
By running this soon after his resignation from the Council, without any clearance from the U.S. Attorney, and with an overflowing plate of documented pay-for-play offenses, Evans is once again recklessly putting his own interests ahead of the public interest. A campaign endorsement that is the equivalent of “never been indicted” or “well, he’s not in jail” seems to me a tacit pat on the back for corruption in government. It’s something that shouldn’t be tolerated on the national level, or the local level.