Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is coming under mounting pressure to explain why she kept an IT aide on the payroll for months after a criminal investigation was revealed, facing calls from Republicans to testify as well as a newly filed ethics complaint.
Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman who led the Democratic National Committee until last year, terminated Imran Awan’s “part-time” employment last week, when he was arrested at Dulles International Airport trying to fly to Pakistan. He was charged with a bank fraud count.
But he and other former IT aides for House Democrats have been on investigators’ radar screen for months over concerns about possible double-billing, alleged equipment theft and access to sensitive computer systems. Most lawmakers fired Awan in March, but Schultz kept him on, though he was barred from the House IT network.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), run by former U.S. Attorney Matthew G. Whitaker (a George W. Bush appointee), also filed a complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday. The complaint urged an investigation, questioning why Schultz kept paying Awan after he was barred from the House computer system, noting “Members are directly responsible for ensuring their staff are only paid for official public work.”
“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,” Whitaker said in a statement.