Back when LL was writing a cover profile of Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, the sticky subject of Evans’ penchant for spending large amounts of his constituent service fund on pro sports season tickets came up.
The problem, as Evans saw it, wasn’t that he was leveraging his public office for front-row seats at Nats games, but that the media was making a big stink about something no one else cared about. Evans says he gives most of the tickets away to deserving people, so who cares if he’s spent $135,000, mostly raised from developers and other monied interests, on season tickets in the last decade?
Still, Evans says he wasn’t sure he was going to continue buying the tickets, given the drubbings he’s taken for them.
It’s clear that Evans has made up his mind: He’ll keep the tickets, thank you very much.
During last month’s vote on an ethics overhaul, the council voted to amend Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser’s omnibus bill to allow Evans to continue to buy season tickets. Bowser originally proposed prohibiting councilmembers from spending constituent service funds on “year-long or season admissions to theatrical, sporting, or cultural events.”
Evans managed to get seven other councilmembers to vote with him to undo that provision, thanks in no small part to a sustained lobbying effort on his part. Several councilmembers say Evans approached them individually multiple times looking for support.
At-Large Councilmember David Catania, who joined Councilmembers Yvette Alexander, Marion Barry, Michael Brown, Phil Mendelson, and Harry Thomas Jr. in voting with Evans, says it didn’t take much prodding. While he personally wouldn’t use his constituent service fund to buy season tickets, Catania says, he didn’t want to “get into the business” of telling councilmembers how to spend their constituent service funds.
“I think there are bigger issues to focus on,” says Catania.
For his part, Evans wouldn’t comment on his lobbying efforts, but added, “We’re going to continue the practice, because it’s not prohibited.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery