Wearing two hats on the D.C. Council
By Peter Tucker
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 The subject of the editorial was Robert Sledd, who has since been withdrawn as Virginia Gov.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?
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