The District’s Board of Ethics and Government Accountability is looking into Ward 2 Councilmember and mayoral hopeful Jack Evans‘ actions in the handover of a city alley to George Washington University, the Associated Press reports.
In July, Evans, along with 11 other councilmembers, voted to close the alley so GWU could build student housing on it. The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, though, wanted the school to contribute money for a second Foggy Bottom Metro station entrance in exchange for the land. The Board of Ethics inquiry centers on the allegation that Evans swapped the alley for GWU’s support in his election bid, according to the Associated Press report. LL also spoke to two people who say they were interviewed by BEGA about the alley, which is in Evans’ ward.
Evans tells LL that he hasn’t been contacted by BEGA and doesn’t know about any investigation. BEGA director Darrin Sobin declined to comment on whether BEGA is investigating the councilmember, since no inquiry into Evans has been made public.
Jackson Carnes, an ANC commissioner and GWU student who says he was interviewed by BEGA and opposed closing the alley without conditions, claims that Evans told him on June 24 that he was trading the land for GWU’s support in the campaign.
Evans didn’t explain to Carnes what sort of help GWU could provide him, according to his account. LL has his own trouble figuring out how wooing a nonprofit university would help in a mayoral campaign.
It wasn’t Carnes’ last encounter with Evans over the alley, the AP reports:
A few weeks later, Evans had a heated discussion in his office with Carnes and two other ANC members. Evans asked GWU’s lobbyist to sit in on the meeting.
“He yelled at us for questioning his integrity,” Carnes said. “He just went ballistic.”
Carnes happens to be a supporter of Councilmember Muriel Bowser, who’s also running for mayor, but waves away any suggestion that he’s trying to help one of Evans’ rivals. “What’s the most harm I could really do?” he says.
In a statement, a GWU spokeswoman said that the university doesn’t make political donations or endorsements.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery