Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s persistent criticism of Jack Evans, board chair of the Washington, D.C., area’s transit agency, finally paid off.
Evans, a member of the D.C. City Council, announced on Thursday he will step down from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency board, effective next week.
His decision came just hours after The Washington Post published a damning internal memo that outlined significant ethical lapses by the long-serving D.C. Councilman, revelations that prompted high-profile Democrats in Congress to call for him to resign.
Hogan has raised questions about Evans’ leadership for most of his tenure in office.
In May he became the first prominent official to call on the Ward 2 councilman, an attorney in private practice, to quit the Metro board in the wake of allegations he used his official connections to benefit various clients.
“I have said for years that Jack Evans is unfit to serve on the WMATA board, and he has finally heeded our calls to resign,” Hogan said in a statement Thursday night.
“We shined a light on this corruption, but there are still many questions that need to be answered. Maryland provides more than 35% of Metrorail’s operating subsidy — more than any other jurisdiction. We will continue to demand full accountability and transparency for Marylanders and our entire region.”
On Monday, Hogan (R) and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) sent a joint letter to WMATA, urging release of a report into Evans’ behind-the-scenes moves to benefit his clients, one of them a parking garage company that has a Metro contract.
Within hours a Metro board member appointed by Hogan released a four-page summary that detailed an ethics investigation by WMATA leadership.
The Hogan-Northam letter followed similar calls from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, the Washington Suburban Transit Commission and Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
On Thursday, Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) called on Evans to relinquish his post as well.
Connolly said “the evidence is now clear” that Evans used his position to help his clients, worked to hide his activities from investigators, and then lied about the findings of Metro’s ethics investigation.
In addition, Connolly said the lingering controversy threatened to undermine Congress’s confidence in the transit agency at a time when regional leaders are working to cement additional federal payments to WMATA.
“Jack Evans is a walking billboard for the ethically challenged, represents a clear and present threat to restoring public confidence in Metro’s integrity, jeopardizes our efforts to renew federal support for Metro in Congress and should resign immediately,” he said in a statement.
Transit advocate David Alpert, editor of the website Greater Greater Washington, said it is impossible to know with certainty what role the Hogan-Northam letter had in convincing Evans to quit. But he said there’s no doubt it helped, particularly given how quickly the board released the summary of its probe.
“It certainly seems that the governors’ letter shook loose an avalanche,” he said. “That seems to have been what kicked it off.”