CHARLESTON — West Virginia Del. Derrick Evans resigned Saturday from the state House one day after federal authorities charged him in last week’s breach of the U.S. Capitol.
Evans’ resignation, announced via a news release from the House of Delegates, is effective immediately.
“I take full responsibility for my actions, and deeply regret any hurt, pain or embarrassment I may have caused my family, friends, constituents and fellow West Virginians,” Evans said in the release. “I hope this action I take today can remove any cloud of distraction from the state Legislature, so my colleagues can get to work in earnest building a brighter future for our state. And more importantly, I hope it helps to begin the healing process, so we can all move forward and come together as ‘One Nation, Under God.’”
Evans, whose full name is Jonathan Derrick Evans, was arrested Friday and charged with two misdemeanors — entering a restricted area, and violent entry or disorderly conduct. He faces up to 18 months in federal prison and a fine if convicted.
Evans, 35, was arraigned at the federal courthouse in Huntington and released on his own recognizance.
On Jan. 6, Evans was part of a group of President Donald Trump supporters who made their way past barricades and forced entry into the U.S. Capitol Building that forced Congress to temporarily stop its work in certifying election results until law enforcement cleared the mob from the facility.
Evans livestreamed himself as part of a crowd of people pushing forward into the Capitol, eventually screaming, “Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”
Evans later deleted the video from his personal “Derrick Evans — The Activist” Facebook page, but the footage has been widely shared since then.
“The past few days have certainly been a difficult time for my family, colleagues and myself, so I feel it’s best at this point to resign my seat in the House and focus on my personal situation and those I love,” Evans said.
Evans, a Republican from Wayne County, was elected to his first term in office on Nov. 3. Evans represented House District 19, which includes most of Wayne County except for Ceredo and Kenova, for a little more than a month. He was sworn in to office Dec. 1, and the House did not reconvene during Evans’ five-week term in office.
Republicans and Democrats in the state House and Senate called on Evans to resign after the video garnered national attention. Many encouraged House leaders to remove Evans from office if he refused to resign.
Gov. Jim Justice called Evans’ actions a “scar on West Virginia.”
Evans’ presence had been removed from the West Virginia Legislature’s website by the time the news release came out Saturday.
In a separate statement Saturday, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, called Evans’ resignation “a good first step” toward “rebuilding our nation’s political climate.”
“Delegate Evans was unfortunately a part of the events this week that threatened what has historically made America a beacon for the rest of the world: the peaceful transfer of power,” Hanshaw said. “In announcing his resignation, Delegate Evans said he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to those he’s hurt. In this time of overheated, hyperbolic political rage, I think that’s a good first step for us all to take right now.
“I hope we can now come together and move forward to begin this important work without any further distraction.”
With Evans out of office, the Wayne County Republican Committee will be tasked with making a list of recommendations for people to replace Evans. Justice will be responsible for appointing a delegate from that list. The new delegate will serve alongside Del. Ric Griffith, D-Wayne, who also represents District 19.
The Legislature convenes Wednesday for an organizational day. The 2021 regular 60-day legislative session begins Feb. 10.
Reach Lacie Pierson at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-1723 or follow @laciepierson on Twitter.