One of the most powerful elected officials in Washington, D.C., used government email for personal business, the Washington Post reports, raising questions whether he violated ethics or broke the law.
Councilman Jack Evans is the longest-serving elected official in the District, chairing both the Metro Board of Directors and the D.C. Council Finance Committee, which oversees tax policy.
Emails obtained by the Post show Evans, with the help of his chief of staff, Schannette Grant, sent emails in 2015 and 2018 to law firms with business proposals offering Evans’ “relationships and influence” in doing business in the District if they were to hire the council member.
D.C. council members are allowed to hold other jobs, but the emails in question were sent using a D.C. government email address, which Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said is — at the minimum — a problem for Evans.
“A member should not use council resources for personal gain … but on the face of it, that appears to be exactly what’s happened, which is why I’ve said I think it was inappropriate,” Mendelson said.
The code of ethics for the Metro Board of Directors states, “Members shall endeavor to avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest, refrain from using their positions for personal profit or gain.”
“In accordance with the Code of Ethics for Members of the WMATA Board of Directors, the Board has requested that the Ethics Officer review the matter regarding the Chair reported in the Washington Post,” a statement from Metro said.
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The Post also reported a subpoena Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office received last year sought records pertaining to Evans dealing with Digi Media, an outdoor sign company looking to do business in D.C.
Mendelson repeatedly declined to say whether his office had received similar subpoenas seeking records for Evans.
Bowser is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“My focus would be on the process playing out and allowing the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability to look at our code of ethics in the government — we’re all held to that code of ethics — and determine if there were any lines crossed,” she said.
Several of Evans’ clients at his private law practice also have been subpoenaed for records related to Evans’ work, the Washington City Paper reported Monday afternoon.
Evans declined to comment, but his attorney, Mark Touhey, said Evans did nothing illegal and the use of government email was simply a mistake.