Sign up for our free newsletter
It turns out Ward 2 CouncilmemberJack Evans may not be rid of that “Metro board thing” after all.
Evidence that Evans violated multiple ethics rules while serving as chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority board led to his ouster, according to a letter from Clarence Crawford, who chairs the board’s ethics committee.
That revelation contradicts Evans’ previous statements that his decision not to seek re-election as WMATA board chairman had nothing to do with the committee’s ethics investigation.
Evans’ attorney, Mark Tuohey, says Crawford’s letter “misrepresents what occurred,” and that the four-member committee “did not” conclude Evans would step down as chairman.
As Crawford describes in his letter to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, WMATA opened an ethics investigation into Evans after the Washington Post reported on business proposals soliciting private work from legal firms that lobby in the District. WMATA hired the law firm Schulte Roth & Zabel to determine whether Evans had violated the board’s ethics code.
The law firm believes Evans violated multiple ethical rules in three areas, including his relationship with Colonial Parking and its CEO, Rusty Lindner, his relationship with Digi Outdoor Communications and Digi Outdoor Media, and his business proposals, which leveraged his position in WMATA for private profit.
Regarding Colonial Parking, the law firm’s investigation concluded that Evans failed to disclose his consulting agreement with the company as well as his “close personal friendship” with Lindner.
“By working to benefit his friend Lindner and consulting client Colonial, Mr. Evans placed the best interests of these parties above the best interests of WMATA,” Crawford summarizes in his letter.
The letter states that Evans waged a campaign against a Colonial competitor, LAZ Parking, that involved “initiating investigations by WMATA’s OIG, and seeking information from WMATA personnel to be shared with Colonial.”
“By repeatedly and proactively taking action that would benefit Colonial and Lindner, at or during the same time that Mr. Evans was being paid $50,000 per year, Mr. Evans improperly used his position at WMATA for his own personal financial gain and/or the private financial gain of his close friend Lindner and Colonial by virtue of Mr. Evans’s consulting agreement,” the letter states.
The letter also states, without specific details, that Evans “solicited and accepted money ‘in connection with’ his official duties.”
The law firm found similar violations involving the digital sign company, including that Evans failed to disclose his consulting agreement with the company, that he used his position for personal gain, and requested WMATA’s assistance on behalf of the company.
Finally, the law firm concluded that Evans violated WMATA’s ethics code by using his position on the board to bolster his business pitch to legal firm Nelson Mullins.
Crawford writes in his letter that the law firm presented its findings, including supporting documents, to the ethics committee. Evans and Tuohey also had an opportunity to make their case. Despite the law firm’s findings, the four-member ethics panel reached a simple majority for only one violation: a duty to avoid conflicts of interest in Evans’ relationship with Colonial Parking.
“Consistent with these conclusions, the Ethics Committee determined that Mr. Evans would no longer be Chair of the WMATA Board, and would amend his annual disclosure forms from 2016 to the present to list his consulting agreement with Colonial Parking,” the letter says.
WMATA’s ethics committee has refused to release its investigation. Crawford’s letter, which came shortly after Hogan and Northam sent a joint letter calling its release, is the first public look at the investigation’s conclusions.
Evans’ term as WMATA chairman ends June 30, and he has said he intends to continue serving as a board member.
The D.C. Council reprimanded Evansfor his business proposals, which were sent from his government email account. At the urging of Chairman Phil Mendelson, the Council declined to pursue its own investigation into Evans.
Instead, Mendelson deferred to federal prosecutors, who are digging into Evans’ relationships with clients of his private consulting firm. Evans has drawn four challengers in the upcoming 2020 election, and an effort to recall him from office is underway.