Washington, D.C., City Council member Jack Evans quietly left his position at Manatt, Phelps, & Phillips late last year as the firm’s attorneys were pushing his fellow D.C. lawmakers for a tax break on a commercial property in his ward.
Not much is known about Evans’ departure from Manatt, where his formal title was counsel in the firm’s corporate and finance group. An email to Evans’ Manatt account returned an automatic reply stating Evans stopped working for the firm effective Nov. 17, 2017.
Joe Florio, Evans’ spokesperson on the D.C. Council, told The National Law Journal on Jan. 5 he did not know whether Evans left the law firm. Neither a Manatt spokesperson nor the attorneys at the firm directly pushing for the tax breaks responded to requests for comment.
Evans’ exit comes as a pair of tax breaks proposed by Evans or his former Manatt colleagues are before the D.C. Council finance and revenue committee, which Evans chairs. He also represents 11 neighborhoods in D.C., including DuPont Circle, Georgetown, and a large stretch of downtown Washington encompassing the National Mall and the White House.
Two Manatt attorneys, John Ray and Tina Ang, have advocated for 25-year tax breaks on the property of the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite Freemasonry of the Southern District of the U.S. The tax break proposal on the Masons’ DuPont Circle property was introduced in June 2017, but the D.C. Council’s calendar shows no hearing or vote has yet been held or scheduled on the legislation, which remains pending before Evans’ committee. Ray and Ang did not respond to requests for comment.
Evans introduced another similar proposal for a tax break for a hotel project in the same neighborhood on Nov. 20, three days after formally leaving Manatt. The D.C. Council’s calendar similarly shows no hearings or votes scheduled or held on the hotel project proposal, which is also pending before Evans’ committee.
Evans’ bill identified one of the property’s “principal owners” as James G. Calomiris, who formerly donated to and fundraised for Evans’ political campaigns, according to the Washington City Paper.
Evans’ tenure on the D.C. Council and his private career at Manatt and previously at Patton Boggs have sometimes prompted criticism about potential conflicts of interest. Still, it’s not clear that there is any connection between his departure from Manatt and his committee’s handling of the tax break proposals supported by his former law firm colleagues and campaign donor.
Evans did not respond to request for comment.