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Guest Host: Matt McCleskey
Longtime D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans has come under scrutiny for emails he sent to law firms in 2015 and 2018 marketing his “relationships and influence” while seeking employment.
Last week, a federal grand jury also issued a subpoena for documents relating to Evans’ relationship to Digi Outdoor Media, a digital sign company that stood to benefit from legislation Evans introduced in 2016.
D.C. Councilmembers David Grosso, Brianne Nadeau and Elissa Silverman have since called for an investigation of Evans’ “ethical judgement” under a special committee.
Guest host Matt McCleskey gets the latest from WAMU reporter Patrick Madden.
<Produced by Ingalisa Schrobsdorff
- Patrick Madden Investigative Reporter, WAMU 88.5 News; @Patrick_Madden
MATT MCCLESKEYYou're listening to WAMU 88.5. This is The Kojo Nnamdi Show. I'm Matt McCleskey sitting in today for Kojo. Coming up later in the broadcast why pedestrian deaths keep rising in our region despite efforts to make streets safer. Then how young people in our area are mobilizing to address climate change. But first, members of the D.C. Council have called for a special investigation into the ethical judgement of Ward 2 Councilmember, Jack Evans.
MATT MCCLESKEYThe D.C. Council met this morning to decide what to do. Evans is already under investigation by federal authorities around a bill he sponsored and contributions from a digital sign company. We go now to WAMU investigative reporter, Patrick Madden, for the latest. Patrick, you were there this morning with the Council. What happened?
PATRICK MADDENWell, Matt, I could tell you a couple of things have happened so far today. The Council had their breakfast before their legislative session today, but the discussion about Evans didn't actually come up then. What did happen was that the Chair of the Council, Phil Mendelson, announced that he would introduce basically a resolution to reprimand Evans essentially for the story about Evans and emails that he basically was, you know, talking about how he could, you know, use his role as a councilmember and he sent them out to local law firms.
PATRICK MADDENSo Chairman Mendelson announced that he will seek to reprimand Evans for what happened. And so after the breakfast, Chairman Evans briefly apologized to his constituents, to the city. He basically said, in retrospect, I would have done things differently. He didn't really say what he was apologizing for and he didn't take any questions.
PATRICK MADDENSo right now where things stand, the Council, you know, is in their legislative session today. But we have the Chair -- Chairman Mendelson announcing that he'll seek, you know, to reprimand Evans. And as you mentioned in the opening, Matt, you know, there are several councilmembers, who want to go further than that. They want to have a special committee to look into this, to investigate, you know, and possibly move for something like a censure.
PATRICK MADDENThis reprimand is less of a penalty, but on the other hand, it can happen right away. So that's sort of where we are right now. And one of the councilmembers, David Grosso, who is seeking to have this special committee to look into Evans has said that this reprimand is not enough. He said, quote, "It's a slap on the wrist."
MCCLESKEYSo reprimand could take -- be in place immediately. A censure would take a little longer. What did Councilmember Evans say in response this morning? Did he address it?
MADDENNo. I mean, again, he had a brief apology where he said, you know, in retrospect, you know, essentially I would have done things differently. But he hasn't really addressed this. And, again, it's important to point out there are essentially two things happening here. One, there was the Washington Post story last Friday about these emails that Evans had reportedly sent out to local law firms. And then separate from that, there's this federal grand jury investigation into Evans and his relationship with a digital sign company, and that is separate from this reprimand that Chairman Mendelson is talking about. The reprimand will just be for this issue with the emails.
MCCLESKEYWell, Evans, of course, is a long time D.C. councilmember, powerful posts, they include Chair of the Metro Board of Directors. He's also on the Council's Finance Committee. If he is reprimanded or censured, could he lose those leadership positions?
MADDENWell, again, big difference between -- doesn't sound like it, but there is a big difference between what would happen with a reprimand versus a censure. If there is a reprimand, it's not going to change anything in terms of Evans assignments on the Council especially this powerful position he has as Chair of the Finance and Revenue Committee. And that was one of the key points that Councilmember Grosso put out in his statement saying, hey, reprimand is not enough. Grosso points out basically that, you know, nothing is going to change and it doesn't remove Evans from this Finance and Revenue Committee.
MCCLESKEYWas anyone talking about potentially removing him from the Council?
MADDENNo. I haven't heard anything regarding that. What I have heard sort of behind the scenes is, again, talk about these committee assignments and what would happen if Evans does step down or is removed from, you know, his role as Chair of the Finance Committee. But, again, that hasn't been announced yet. And this reprimand, which Chairman Mendelson will introduce and will get voted on will not change anything in terms of committee assignments.
MCCLESKEYWell, quickly what are the next steps from the Council? What should we be looking for?
MADDENWell, the first thing will just be this vote on the reprimand. Secondly, you know, it will be interesting to see if there's a group of councilmembers that want to go further than this reprimand. They want to have this special committee that will look into to this to have, you know. So I think that's where the key tension point is today. You know, Chairman Mendelson wants a reprimand basically to do it immediately and move on. Whereas some of the councilmembers say they need to go further than that and they want a special committee.
MCCLESKEYPatrick Madden, WAMU Investigative Reporter, thanks so much for joining us with that update.
MADDENThank you, Matt.
MCCLESKEYAnd we'll be keeping an eye on this, of course. And we'll keep you updated on WAMU 88.5.
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