No D.C. councilmember has ever been voted out of office, by a voter recall or by expulsion through a vote of the Council.
But on Friday, At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds, perhaps unwittingly, predicted that Ward 2’s Jack Evans will be the first councilmember kicked out by his colleagues.
By Friday afternoon, four days after a damning report showed Evans violated several of the Council’s ethical rules, Bonds was the only local lawmaker whose views on whether Evans should, or could, remain in office were unknown. Nine councilmembers have publicly called for Evans to leave on his own. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has only said that he had a conversation with Evans about resigning, but would not elaborate on that discussion. The DC Line later cited anonymous sources who said the chairman advised Evans to step down as early as June, when the FBI raided his Georgetown home.
Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray is the only pol not calling for Evans’ resignation. In a statement, Gray said he wants to see the investigatory process play out.
On WAMU’s Politics Hour this week, Bonds dished about her own conversation with Evans, telling Kojo Nnamdi‘s listeners that “all of us,” meaning every councilmember, herself included, believes Evans should resign.
“But the issue is that he’s not going to,” Bonds said. “He says he’s not going to.”
The Council needs 11 votes to force Evans out of office. He will be allowed to cast a vote on his own expulsion, which means he needs two allies on the 13-member body. Besides Gray, who is quite familiar with federal investigations and their political consequences, Bonds was seen as the other piece of a potential firewall.
Bonds went on to say on the radio that in her private conversation with Evans, she told him “I am very sure when we take the vote, the vote will be to expel you.”
Later in the show, resident political analyst and City Paper contributor Tom Sherwood asked for some clarification:
“I just got a text from someone who says: ‘It’s huge news that you have called on Jack Evans to resign,’” Sherwood said. “Because you had not done so publicly before today. Is that right?”
“I’m not doing it publicly,” Bonds said. “I said I had a conversation with him.”
At this point, LL was understandably confused. Here was a citywide elected official saying on live radio that she had a private conversation in which she advised an embattled colleague to resign. She then went on to say into a microphone that broadcasts her words to thousands of speakers, headphones, and AirPods in the D.C. metro area that she is confident the Council will take the unprecedented move to fire him.
LL is struggling to think of a more public forum than a radio show that can be heard throughout the District, Virginia, and all the way out to Maryland’s Atlantic coast. The difference between publicly calling for Evans’ resignation and telling the public about a private conversation in which she suggested he do so is negligible.
Bonds also criticized her nine colleagues for their public calls for Evans’ resignation and later doubled down on her own.
“I’m a little discouraged that so many of my colleagues, you know, kind of jumped out there and said, ‘well, you know, resign now,’ or however the term has been put to the public,” Bonds said.
Then later, in response to a caller’s question, she said: “My attitude today is that I believe all of us have requested that Mr. Evans consider resigning. I think it’s better if he has his timing set, as opposed to the body voting to set the timing for him. And so I’m going to stand by that.”
When asked about another issue currently consuming the Council, Bonds predictably sided with Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s demand for the body to ban outside employment for its members. Bonds told Nnamdi and Sherwood that she preferred a bill from Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie that bars second jobs entirely to a bill form Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, which contains a carve-out for teachers like Ward 3’s Mary Cheh, a tenured law professor at The George Washington University law school. Cheh certainly won’t be pleased with Bonds’ position.