President Donald Trump has escaped an ouster with help from his fellow Republicans at the Senate. Within America’s other major political group, however, there wasn’t much support for a senior member whose mandate became fraught with corruption allegations. And the lack of it ended the longest ever career at the D.C. Council. Well, at least for now!
From Law to Politics: A Busy Route to Power
The rise and fall of Jack Evans as a politician is not an ordinary story. Nor is it likely to stop making rounds in D.C. circles any time soon.
The longest-serving council member in the nation’s capital opened his eyes to this world to a humble couple living in Pennsylvania, a florist and a schoolteacher, in 1953. Earning a degree in Economics first, Evans later went on to study Law, the area of higher education that has possibly bred the largest group of politicians in U.S. history.
Following graduation, he started working as a lawyer and about a decade later he won his first political office at the D.C. legislature in the 1991 special elections. That was a seat he would never let go for the next 28 years.
During his jealousy-incitingly long career at the Council, he represented the strategic Ward 2, which covers 11 neighborhoods like Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle, Georgetown and parts of downtown Washington, including the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the rest of the National Mall.
Personal Gains Through Public Office?
Evans’ resignation followed a 10-week investigation into his alleged misconduct as a public office holder. The probe looked into his employment outside the Council, an extremely rare characteristic among other council members, and whether he used his political influence to make personal gains via private legal/consultancy work.
The probe eventually identified a total of 11 ethical violations publicized in a November 4 report last year.
“He received over $400,000 for doing little or no documented work for consulting clients most, if not all, of whom were also ‘prohibited sources’ under the Code of Official Conduct,” it suggested.
D.C. laws allow legislators to retain outside employment while serving at the Council, but require them “to disclose” all conflicts of interest between public and private roles as a professional.
In May last year, WMATA’s general counsel accused Evans of failing to disclose such “a conflict of interest.” And FBI agents raided his Georgetown home the following month as part of a separate, federal grand jury investigation into similar charges against him.
As accusations mounted and Evans failed to refute them, the Council, which comprised only Democrats like Evans except for two Independent members, united in a vote in December to recommend his expulsion from the legislature.
“Mr. Evans has betrayed each and every one of us — his colleagues, the government, and the residents of the District of Columbia. I don’t think there is any other action that we can fairly take other than expulsion. Nothing short of that would be proportionate to what he’s done,” Mary Cheh, the only council member aside from Evans with an outside job, said of their approach to Evans.
Also a Democrat, Cheh is a constitutional law professor at the George Washington University. She led the ad hoc committee where she and the rest of the 12 council members paved the way for Evans’ dismissal with their unanimous vote.
If Evans hadn’t resigned, that was going to be the first expulsion from the D.C. Council in history.
Not Quite Done with Public Life, Is He?
The District is now making preparations to replace Evans. A June 2 primary election will decide who will compete in the November general elections to represent Ward 2.
On June 16, however, the result of a special election will determine who will serve out the remainder of Evans’ term that ends in January 2021.
Despite all the damning publicity he received in the process of multiple graft probes against him, Evans, however, showed that he had no intentions to retire from public life. He made that clear when he filed for running in both of those elections only 10 days after he resigned from his post.
It is only up to time and the people of the District if this will be enough to cast himself brand-new.