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

LL bumped into Councilmember Jack Evans in the halls of the Wilson Building this morning, and the Ward 2 rep took issue with a recent characterization of his current state of affairs. 

In announcing Evans’ third challenger in the 2020 primary, LL referred to Evans as “embattled,” as in “ready for battle,” or “engaged in battle, conflict or controversy,” or “characterized by conflict or controversy.”

“Why do you use the word ’embattled’?” Evans wondered. “I actually think we’re doing pretty well. We got rid of the state committee thing and the Metro board thing.” 

Evans is referring to two recent victories in what have otherwise been a rocky several months.

First, Evans successfully avoided the public shame of being removed from the D.C. Democratic Party leadership. A resolution to force Evans from his elected position as the national committeeman, the local representative to the national Democratic Party, was defeated during the state committee’s May meeting after an initial snafu at its April meeting.

Second, Evans survived an ethics investigation by the Metro board, which he chairs. The board began its investigation March 4, a couple days after the Washington Post reported on business proposals Evans sent from his Council email address to legal and lobbying firms. In the proposals Evans touts his position as the board’s chairman, writing in part:

“Notably, I am the driving force behind a plan in DC, Maryland, and Virginia to create a dedicate [sic] funding source to restore stability to WMATA’s fiscal operations and long-term capital plan. Given the centrality of the subway system to the economic well-being of the tri-state region, I am very well connected to political and business leaders across the area.”

When Evans announced he will not seek re-election as the Metro board chairman, the Post also reported that the board had closed its inquiry and would not release the results. Today, LL asked Evans whether it would be in his best interest for the investigation to become public. If there’s no connection between the investigation and Evans’ decision to step down, why not let the public take a look?

Evans said he couldn’t comment.

Charles Crawford, the Metro board member in charge of the investigation, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

In response to Evans’ emailed proposals, the D.C. Council reprimanded him and stripped his finance and revenue committee of some responsibilities. But Evans successfully quieted calls from some lawmakers for stronger action. Councilmembers have since backed off and appear content to wait for a slow-moving federal investigation into Evans’ alleged mixing of his elected position and his private business affairs to play out.

But back to the semantics debate: Although Evans chided LL for his word choice, and other outlets have used the same adjective, the fastidious councilmember could not offer an alternative.

“Just think of a better word,” he says, and so we will.

We could go with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan‘s description: “ethically compromised.” After Evans announced he would step down as the Metro board chairman, Hogan called on him to resign from the board altogether.

There’s also “quarrelsome,” as demonstrated by his feud a few years ago with Wikipedia editors over the content of his entry.

There’s the Post‘s description of Evans as “Vice Mayor.”

We could also call him “generous” Jack. After all, Evans says those season tickets for athletic events that he purchases with his constituent services funds are often given away to residents and charities. Evans recently told the Post that he will stop using the controversial fund to purchase sports tickets.

Or how about “longest-serving” councilmember? Evans was first elected in 1991, and hasn’t faced a challenger in more than a decade. Now that he’s embroiled in controversy, he’s got three.

Then, of course, there’s “parking scallywag” Jack. Evans is famous for parking his Sebring wherever the hell he wants. Evans will remind those parking tattletales that the Council has exempted its members from parking tickets as long as they’re on city business.

Previous LLs have gone with “Swagger Jack,” and “Unhappy Jack,” and the “council’s premier sports fan.” 

We could also call him a “friend of Trump.” In an initial meeting with Evans last year, LL asked about the photos that cover the walls in his Council office. Several of them feature Evans smiling alongside the current occupant of the White House.

Evans said the photos were taken before Trump was elected president, at the groundbreaking for the Trump International Hotel. 

“I generally like the guy,” Evans told LL. “We met a couple times. His daughter I’ve had much more contact with. Ivanka came by here a number of times trying to figure out how to work the District of Columbia, and how to get through this, that, and the other thing.”

But one descriptor that may no longer be fair game is “part-time” councilmember. For nearly his entire 28-year tenure, Evans has held a second job—most recently as the head of his own private consulting firm, NSE Consulting. Evans has recently said he will cut out the moonlighting, though he renewed the business registration in March, records show.