The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), an ethics watchdog group, has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The complaint pertains to the House IT scandal. We wrote about that matter here and here.
Peter Hasson of the Daily Caller reports that the complaint centers on the fact that Wasserman Schultz continued to employ House IT aide Imran Awan even while he was under criminal investigation and banned from the House computer network. Awan and several of his family members who worked for various House Democrats are suspected of stealing computers and improperly accessing and transferring House members’ computer files.
Other House Democrats fired Awan family members after the scandal broke in February. However, Wasserman Schultz did not fire Imran Awan until late July when he was arrested for bank fraud at Dulles Airport as he was leaving for Pakistan.
Not only did Wasserman Schultz retain Awan’s services after the scandal broke, she threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding equipment in furtherance of the police investigation into the Awans. She demanded the equipment back.
Matthew Whitaker is the executive director of FACT. He’s an Iowa lawyer who served as a U.S. Attorney during the Bush administration. He also played tight end for the University Iowa, appearing in the 1981 Rose Bow.
Whitaker had this to say about Wasserman Schultz and the IT scandal:
There is something quite amiss as to why Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz continued to use taxpayer funds to employ former technology staff member, Imran Awan, even months after he was barred from accessing the House’s computer systems and a number of her colleagues severed ties with Awan.
Since Awan’s arrest last week, Wasserman Schultz has been evasive and unable to answer even basic questions about the nature of Awan’s employment with her office. This only further confirms the urgency of an investigation into her unethical and illegal actions.
According to the Daily Caller’s Hasson, several House IT workers said that members of Congress, including Wasserman Schultz, displayed inexplicable loyalty to the Awans. They expressed concern that the Awans could be blackmailing congressional Democrats.
This may (or may not) be what is “amiss” about Wasserman Schultz’s retention of Imran Awan. In any event, the retention raises ethics issues that deserve to be investigated.