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Posted at 7:33 PM ET, 01/22/2010

Wearing two hats on the D.C. Council

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Peter Tucker
Washington


On Jan. 12, The Post editorialized in favor of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) challenging Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) [“A challenge the District needs,” Jan. 12]. If Mr. Gray follows The Post’s advice, Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) plans to run for chairman, the city’s second most-powerful position. Mr. Evans has told The Post, “If Vince does run for mayor, and the chair position is open, I would run for chair of the council.”

Mr. Evans has nothing to lose, since his Ward 2 seat isn’t up until 2012. And he certainly has a wealth of experience: With nearly 19 years on the council, he’s the longest-serving member; additionally, he’s served as chairman of the influential finance and revenue committee for more than 10 years. But this isn’t Mr. Evans’s only experience: While serving as a council member (for which he earns more than $125,000 a year), Mr. Evans simultaneously works as a lawyer for the firm Patton Boggs (which pays him an additional $240,000).

What exactly does Mr. Evans do to earn his second six-figure salary? And for whom?

Alongside the council member’s picture, Patton Boggs’s Web site notes that, “Mr. Evans advises clients on real estate matters.” In his capacity as chair of the finance and revenue committee, Mr. Evans plays a pivotal role in many “real estate matters,” involving billions of precious District tax dollars and public property. Examples include the baseball stadium, the convention center and now the convention center hotel. It needs to be asked: Which hat does Mr. Evans wear when he helps put these massive deals together?

On Jan. 7, in a strongly worded editorial [“Too many masters”], The Post condemned public officials who “serve in state government while drawing compensation from the private sector.” The Post stated that a public official who engages in this practice doesn’t care “much for ethics in government, the potential conflicts of interest or the idea that public service entails personal sacrifice.” The subject of the editorial was Robert Sledd, who has since been withdrawn as Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell’s choice for state commerce secretary. The Post condemned Mr. Sledd (“by his actions and words he projects limited understanding of the nature of government service”), but Mr. Evans has been described in the paper as “a moderate, pro-business Democrat.”

Yes, Mr. Evans is not the only council member to earn income outside of his generous council pay, but that only serves to raise the stakes on this issue. Why does The Post find this practice problematic in Virginia but not the District?

By washingtonpost.com editors  | January 22, 2010; 7:33 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic  
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Comments

It is a shame DC has such low standards in politics; it is alamost like Pakistan.

Posted by: AhmarMustikhan | January 23, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Better than that why hasn't the post further investigated the director of DOT owning a car rental company that claims free parking spaces in the district. the regulator regulating himself. And the post doesn't believes there is no conflict.

The post and fenty ...a joke. no respect for the law. The post will be as much to blame when the real investigative bodies release their findings on the current adminstration.

Posted by: gordonbundy | January 23, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for bringing much needed attention to Councilmember Evans' problematic conflicts of interest and severe lack of ethics. At a time when the District's budget is tighter than ever before, it's important for the media to pay attention to practices that ultimately harm the District -- and Councilmember Evans is certainly guilty of these.

Posted by: nadia2 | January 23, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Nadia2. Thanks for bringing to our attention -- and hopefully the attention of an enterprising reporter at the Post -- the ways in which development and real estate decisions made by the council are tainted by Councilman Evan's outside compensation.

Posted by: jhs1 | January 24, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

This isn't news. Any good citizen would get to know their candidates before voting for them. Jack has been serving DC quite well over the years. At least he pays his taxes and doesn't smoke crack with prostitutes in hotels.

Posted by: Aimhigh2000 | January 24, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Under the Home Rule Act, the Chairman of the Council is the only member who of the Council who can not engage in outside employment. Other members can have other employment. This is generally in line with the situtation for most state legislatures and most city councils. Generally the positions are part-time and legislators and council members have other employment.

The relevant provisions of law are set out in D.C. Code sec. 1-204.03.

Posted by: esch | January 24, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Is this the same law firm that Jack Evans harried out to get when the tax revenue was being stolen of 50 million or more dollars.Evans was the chairperson of that commitee.Was his rush out to the law firm to coverup whatever his involvement of his house keeping?I Think this should looked in to.

Posted by: cureton46 | January 24, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

is this a question of someone being extremely competent and extremely compromised ethically?

Investigate it please!!

Posted by: slats999 | January 25, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Councilmember Evans has served the residents of Ward 2 well.

Tucker is stretching it on this one - all hearsay and "what ifs." Most members have outside employment anyway. I am relieved the Evans actually knows something about the committee he chairs.

Ward 2 needs him and his expertise. Glad we have both.

Posted by: todayitwasagoodday | January 25, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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