Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans
Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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There are nearly 1,000 pages comprising the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s ethics investigation into its former chairman and Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans,which were handed over to members of Congress this summer. But two Republican members of the House Oversight Committee are asking for more.

Contained in those pages is evidence that Evans “sought and obtained personal financial benefit in return for official actions,” and tried to sabotage the investigation with threats against WMATA staff, according to a memo and a letter from two GOP congressmen sent to members of the committee, which has oversight of the District.

In the two-page letter addressed to Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.-07), who chairs the committee, and Gerald Connolly (D-Va.-11), who chairs the panel’s subcommittee on government operations, GOP congressmen Jim Jordan (R-Oh.-04) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.-11) request “transcribed interviews” with Evans and four other people mentioned in WMATA’s investigation. In July, the pair of GOP congressmen requested materials related to WMATA’s ethics investigation.

The letter references three examples of Evans’ ethically dubious behavior, including his alleged attempts to use his former position as chairman of the Metro board to help clients who hired him as a consultant, his potential obstruction of the board’s investigation, and his efforts to conceal its results with threats to WMATA staff.

Jordan and Meadows’ letter also references the Sept. 19 congressional hearing on D.C. statehood, in an apparent attempt to undermine those efforts.

“This investigation has a direct bearing on matters currently before the Committee, including the announced hearings on statehood for the District of Columbia and WMATA oversight,” the letter says. Their previous letter has quoted Evans’ saying that D.C. has “‘pulled its act together’ and is ready to become a state.”

In addition to Evans, the letter requests interviews with WMATA corporate secretary Jennifer Ellison and general counsel Patricia Lee, both of whom were reportedly threatened by Evans, as well as Metro board vice chair Clarence Crawford and general manager Lynn Bowersox,

Among the documents provided to the congressmen were notes from Crawford in preparation for a meeting, which said “this process has been difficult, and that Mr. Evans has made threats to publicly criticize the Board, the Ethics Committee, the staff, and the outside counsel who supported the ethics investigation,” according to the memo obtained by LL.

The same document says Evans threatened to “get” whoever leaked a press statement about the investigation. Crawford also wrote: “5/8/19. Jack — Jennifer. Be careful you could be next. ‘Hair on the back of your neck stands up,’” apparently in reference to Evans threats to Ellison.

The documents also seem to implicate Corbett Price, the District’s other former representative on the Metro board, who resigned after calls for him to step down following his untrue statement that Evans had been cleared of ethics violations.

Bowersox’s notes, quoted in the memo, say: “Corbett & Jack repeatedly called Jennifer & Patty — including interrupting [meetings] in Patty’s [office]. … Patty advised Jack threatening her job & Jennifer’s.” Bowersox’s notes dated May 9 say “threats & yelling continue. 4 p.m. Patty getting repeat calls from Jack & Corbett. Not returning…”

The memo also describes how Evans and Price may have plotted to no-show for a meeting where Crawford planned to alert the full Metro board of its ethics committee’s conclusions. WMATA bylaws require at least one representative from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia be present for a quorum. 

“Repeated attempts by [Crawford] to brief full board scuttled—May 9 & May 13. … Each time DC threatened staff, process, leaks, not participating to scuttle quorum,” according to Bowersox’s notes.

In an emailed statement, Connolly says: “the documents provided to our Committee confirm my serious concerns about Mr. Evans’ unethical behavior as Chairman of the WMATA Board. We can’t turn a blind eye to this type of self-dealing and threats. This, as well as Metro safety improvements, will be one of the many issues we will examine in our October [22] hearing.”

Connolly did not say whether he supports the interviews GOP congressmen are requesting. 

Evans, through his D.C. Council spokesperson, declined to comment. The seasoned lawmaker resigned as chair of the Metro board in June. He has been censured by the D.C. Council, and is currently fending off investigations on multiple fronts. Federal agents raided his Georgetown home in June, and the Council launched its own investigation into potential conflicts of interest related to Evans’ private consulting firm, NSE Consulting LLC. The Council also removed Evans as chair of the finance and revenue committee.

A conclusion to the Council’s investigation is expected soon after the lawmakers return from summer recess later this month.