UPDATE: March 8, 11:55 a.m. City Paper has learned that a federal subpoena has just been served on all D.C. councilmembers, demanding they preserve any and all records related to Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans. See the full text of the letter the Council’s general counsel, Nicole Streeter, sent to councilmembers and their staffs at the bottom of this post.
Sources tell City Paper that at least three private clients of Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans received recent federal subpoenas asking for details of what Evans did for them. Sources say the firms are Colonial Parking, EastBanc Inc., and Willco Construction Co., all deeply involved in D.C. matters.
Willco and EastBanc are both major players in D.C. real estate development. Contacted Thursday, EastBanc, headquartered in Georgetown, declined to comment, saying, “It’s not something we can comment on.” Willco, headquartered in Potomac, Maryland, tells City Paper, “We’ve just learned about this investigation. We’re willing to cooperate and beyond that we have no comment.”
Colonial Parking, also headquartered in Georgetown, is a storied presence in the District with ubiquitous parking garages and real estate. It did not respond to inquiries.
Evans is chairman of the powerful Finance and Revenue Committee and is the longest serving councilmember. He is facing a federal inquiry into his connection with a digital sign company that sought to erect dozens of electronic billboards in downtown D.C. a few years ago.
The Washington Postfirst disclosed in late February that the District government had received a federal subpoena last September demanding information about the digital sign company and any involvement by Evans. City Paper first reported that unnamed clients of Evans had been subpoenaed.
Donald MacCord, then the leader of the digital company, Digi Media, allegedly attempted to ply Evans with cash, stock certificates, and even a summer job for Evans’ son. Evans has said he promptly returned the gifts and that his son did not take the job. Evans drafted legislation that would have removed administrative hurdles for the sign company, but did not introduce the legislation.
While Evans faces scrutiny here, MacCord has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with defrauding investors in his digital company, alleging MacCord and an associate raised about $4.5 million for their digital venture, but spent half of the money on themselves.
Evans also is facing a formal Council reprimand for using his government email address to solicit business for his private law firm, NSE Consulting LLC, a practice that also was first disclosed by the Post.
On Thursday evening at the DC Democratic State Committee monthly meeting, Evans walked to the stage to brief applause. He apologized, acknowledging that he made mistakes and should have done things much differently. Evans, the Dems’ national committeeman, appeared contrite and asked for forgiveness and promised to work to regain trust. Several members of the Democratic Party have signed onto a letter calling for Evans to resign his post as national committeeman, but it does not appear that he intends to step down. “There’s no one more horrified about what I did than I am,” Evans said. He apologized for “embarrassing us” but did not specify what he felt he did wrong beyond that.
On Tuesday, Evans spoke to reporters outside the Council chambers and apologized, but did not specify for what.
“In retrospect,” Evans said, “I would have done a lot of things differently; I certainly made some major mistakes.” Evans said, “I want to take this opportunity to apologize to my constituents, to the residents of the District of Columbia, and to my colleagues.”
Evans did not take questions from the reporters surrounding him. This week he told reporter Jonetta Rose Barras of the DC Line that he would allow his NSE Consulting firm to expire in April.
The Council is expected to vote in two weeks on the reprimand. At least two councilmembers, David Grosso (At-Large) and Charles Allen (Ward 6) have called for tougher punishment of Evans. Grosso has said that Evans should be removed from his committee assignments, including the powerful finance post. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson proposed the reprimand for the email misuse, saying law enforcement authorities are looking at the other possible illegal activities.