City Paper is not for tourists
The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) has issued its final audit of Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans’ political action committee, indicating that Evans did not violate any city campaign laws.
But the report also recommended that Evans repay $6,772.72 to the PAC, which he has done. Evans was reimbursed by the PAC in that amount for expenses Evans incurred during a 2004 city-sponsored trip to China. Those expenses covered travel and lodging for Evans friend Marsha Ralls, who joined him on the trip.
The payment was requested by the OCF as part of an extensive audit of his PAC—once called “The Jack PAC,” later renamed “The D.C. Fund.” The PAC, which was officially formed to advance Evans’ political agenda, was used to pay for tickets to sporting events, travel expenses, and for contributions to groups he supports. Contributors to the PAC included lobbyists, developers, and companies with interests before the D.C. Council.
The campaign-finance office began to scrutinize the PAC after it was revealed that Evans personally wrote checks out of its bank account. The reimbursement for the China trip also raised eyebrows. Evans has previously said that he requested the audit of the account and has fully cooperated with OCF staff.
In the course of the audit, OCF discovered that Evans had created another $82,500 account, “Friends of D.C.,” to pay for polling and political consulting, according to the report.
[ADDENDUM, 6:27 P.M.: A few of the line items from Evans’ April 3 disclosure of his Friends of D.C. contributions and expenditures:
- $15,000 from Douglas Development Corp., a real-estate development firm controlled by Douglas Jemal, who has been indicted on charges that he bribed a District contracting official. Jemal has pleaded not guilty.
- A total of $11,750 from D.C. Legal PAC and employees or family of plaintiff’s attorney Jack Olender.
- $10,000 from companies associated with Stephen A. Goldberg, a developer and philanthropist who contributed $60,000 to create the Think D.C. PAC.]
Evans was contemplating a run for mayor in 2005, but the report says Evans’ representatives contend that “this account was opened only for the purposes of a poll to determine the standing of Councilmember Jack Evans in the 2006 calendar year elections, and not as an exploratory committee for office.”
By law, Evans is not required to report that fund’s contributions or expenditures. Temporary legislation passed by the council calling for reporting of exploratory committee reports did not include any enforcement provisions.
[ADDENDUM, 6:27 P.M.: Evans says he has no plans to challenge the report or create another PAC. “After an extensive review by the Office of Campaign finance, the audit report concluded that the Jack PAC was in compliance with the law,” he says.]
OCF General Counsel Kathy Williams says because the committee and Evans agreed to provide all the information requested and repaid the China trip expenses, the matter is closed. “The fact that they’ve terminated the PAC has a lot to do with the resolution,” she says.