The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s largest local LGBT political group, approved a resolution Monday night calling for D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) to temporarily resign from his position as chair of an influential Council committee and from his post as National Committeeman from D.C. to the Democratic National Committee.
But nearly all of the 16 members in attendance at the club’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting on March 11 voted ‘no’ to defeat another proposed resolution calling on Evans to resign from the Council.
The Stein Club resolutions surfaced at a time when Evans has come under heavy criticism for allegedly using his Council email to solicit business for his private consulting and lobbying firm, NSE Consulting LLC, from law firms that have sought or conducted business with the D.C. government, according to a report last week by the Washington Post.
The Post reported that Evans allegedly offered to use his influence and connections in his role as the Council’s longest serving member, his position as chair of the Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue, and his role as chair of the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or Metro, to help the law firm’s clients.
In a development that startled the city’s political establishment, the Post also reported last week that federal prosecutors investigating Evans’ business connections served subpoenas on each of Evans’ 12 Council colleagues and on the office of Mayor Muriel Bowser requesting “a wide range of information” related to Evans and his “constellation of private legal and consulting clients.”
LGBT activists for years have considered Evans to be the Council’s strongest supporter of LGBT rights.
During the past week he has apologized to his constituents, fellow Council members, and local Democratic Party leaders for what he called a “mistake” in using his Council email to contact potential business clients. But he has declined to discuss the specifics of his outside business interests and whether they may present a conflict of interest for his role as a Council member, the Post reported.
Under the D.C. Home Rule Act, which serves as the local city government’s constitution, City Council members are considered to be part-time government employees and there are no restrictions to their working in outside jobs or engaging in business.
All but one of the Stein Club members attending its Monday night meeting voted yes for the resolution calling for Evans to step down from his position as the city’s National Committeeman for the DNC.
The same resolution also calls on Evans to “fully disclose the records of his lobbying/consulting firm, NSE Consulting LLC, including the client list, the amount paid, and the nature of the work conducted on behalf of its clients.”
The resolution was introduced by longtime club member and Democratic Party activist John Capozzi. Capozzi urged the club to join numerous other local progressive organizations that have asked Evans to step down from his party leadership position.
The club then passed a second resolution introduced by Capozzi calling for Evans to temporarily step down from his position as chair of the Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue while investigations into his alleged ethics breaches are ongoing.
“Whereas while we are not seeking to play judge or jury regarding any allegations against or assuming to know the result of any ongoing investigation with regard to Councilmember Evans, we are deeply troubled by those allegations, his responses to them to date, and the ethical implications should they be proven true,” the Stein Club resolution states, “particularly in light of the documents that have been made public in which the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club’s name was mentioned by Councilmember Evans.”
Capozzi said that provision in the resolution refers to one of Evans’ emails obtained by the Washington Post in which he solicited business from the international law firm Nelson Mullins, which has offices in D.C. In his email to the law firm Evans listed nine organizations with which he had an affiliation or membership, including the Stein Club, the ACLU, and the Sierra Club, among other groups.
Longtime Stein Club member Cartwright Moore, the only one to vote no on the resolution approved by the club, said Evans has been a longstanding friend and supporter of the LGBT community and the club should not declare him “guilty” before he has a chance to fully defend himself.
“We don’t want to be seen as a fair weather friend,” he said.
Moore, however, abstained from voting on Capozzi’s second resolution calling for Evans to resign from his committee chair position.
A spokesperson for Evans’ Council office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou
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