D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has asked his general counsel to lay out the ethical and legal rules, and the body’s options, following a Washington Post report about Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans‘ proposals to lobbying firms.
On Friday, the Post reported that Evans and his chief of staff sent letters to legal and lobbying firms in which he touted his business and political connections and tried to cash in on the knowledge and influence he gained as the District’s longest serving lawmaker.
In one pitch to the firm Nelson Mullins, which is stamped confidential, Evans says he will “cross-market … my relationships and influence” to benefit clients looking to do business in D.C.
“My legislative record demonstrates that I have been a stalwart champion of recruiting and retaining new technology companies, creating a regulatory environment friendly to business, and countering policies counter to these aims,” Evans writes in the proposal.
Mendelson tells LL that Evans’ use of a government email account to send these pitches, as well as the pitches themselves, are “inappropriate.” He reached out to the Council’s lawyer Saturday morning to find out if Evans’ actions extend beyond that.
As chairman, Mendelson notes that he is legally prohibited from outside employment. But he adds that “if I was able to, I would not advertise the way that Jack has. On the other hand, the one [letter] that I read where he said ‘I’ve gotten to know all these people,’ this is what lobbyists do in Washington. They say ‘I know people.’
“And this is what I want to talk with our general counsel about. Is this something that’s not politically smart or does it cross the line with regard to our ethics, or even cross the line with regard to the law?” Mendelson says.
Evans’ business pitches come to light at the same time that federal law enforcement has begun prying into his dealings with a digital sign company. The Post has reported that Evans received, and then returned, money and stocks from the company, Digi Outdoor Media, before pushing legislation that would have benefited Digi.
A grand jury issued a subpoena to the Office of the City Administrator demanding records related to Evans’ legislation and his connection to Donald MacCord, Digi’s founder.