Council’s Counsel: Evans In the Clear
Since last summer there's been a website devoted to calling on Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans to explain the links between his outside job as a lawyer for the lobbying powerhouse firm Patton Boggs and his role in directing city funds to help finance the construction of a new hotel next to the District's convention center.
Evans recused himself from committee and council votes during the summer of 2009, when the council approved using $272 million in public funds to get the long-languishing convention center hotel built. Once finished, the hotel will be operated by Marriott International Corp.
John Hanrahan, a former Post reporter, has been sending regular letters to the council (which are posted at StealALittle.com) asking why Evans didn't follow city law that requires he explain in writing why he recused himself. At the time of the votes, Evans said he was recusing himself to avoid "any appearance of a conflict of interest," and an article by the Examiner apparently said that Patton Boggs represented Marriott.
It turns out that Evans didn't have to explain why he recused himself, because Patton Boggs didn't represent Marriott or anyone else involved in the deal. That, at least, is the truth according to Evans, his boss at Patton Boggs, and a search of lobbyist disclosure forms by LL. Evans said he recused himself, even after checking with Patton Boggs to make sure that there were no conflicts of interests, because the large firm has varied interests, and it would be his "bad luck" for some type of connection with Marriott to later emerge.
Based on the fact that there was no connection, a memo from the D.C. Council's general counsel cleared Evans of any wrongdoing.
You can get all this information (and more) from a blog post put up a few moments ago by Post reporter Mike DeBonis, who like LL was given a copy of the counsel's memo by Evans' office today.
But that memo came out in April of this year, and Hanrahan (with help from Evans critic Rob Halligan, who operates the website) has been hammering Evans about this issue for months. So why is it just seeing the light of day now?
Because of feelings—personal feelings.
"This is an opportunity I've been waiting for," Evans told LL yesterday after DeBonis made an inquiry about Hanrahan's letters. "To respond without responding directly to Hanrahan, who I think is a fucking idiot."
LL didn't have the heart to tell Hanrahan Evans had called him a "fucking idiot," but did convey that Evans says didn't he respond directly to Hanrahan's letters and website because he thinks Hanrahan is on a personal vendetta.
Hanrahan says he doesn't think he's ever met Evans, and he's baffled why Evans wouldn't respond sooner to the questions and concerns raised about his dual role at Patton Boggs and on the council.
"Citizens shouldn't have to go through this," Hanrahan says.
Meanwhile, Evans, like several of his colleagues, defended councilmembers' outside employment yesterday, during an eight-hour hearing on ethics.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery