Politics

Pakistani Suspects In House IT Probe Received $4 Million From Dem Reps

Five members of a Pakistani family under criminal investigation for allegedly misusing their positions as computer administrators for dozens of Democrats in the House of Representatives were paid at least $4 million from July 2009 to the present, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

Evidence suggests some of the dozens of House Democrats — many of whom serve on the intelligence, homeland security and foreign affairs committees — who employed the suspects were inexplicably paying people they rarely or never saw. See the interactive graphic at the end of this story for the names of the employing representatives.

The suspects had full access to the emails and office computer files of the members for whom they worked.  A focus of the investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police is an off-site server on which congressional data was allegedly loaded without the knowledge of authorities.

Even before Capitol Police told chiefs of staff for the employing Democrats Feb. 2 that the Awans — including brothers Imran, Abid and Jamal, and two of their wives, Hina Alvi and Natalia Sova — were suspects in a criminal theft and cybersecurity probe, there were multiple signs that something was amiss.

For example, four of the 500 highest-paid House staffers are suspects, according to TheDCNF’s analysis of payroll records. There are more than 15,000 congressional staff employees with an average age of 31, according to Legistorm.

Top slots on Capitol Hill are subject to fierce competition, and for most employees, the hours are long and job security is nonexistent. The median salary for legislative assistants is $43,000 annually, according to InsideGov.com.

Imran Awan has collected $1.2 million in salary since 2010, and his brother Abid and wife Hina Alvi were each paid more than $1 million.

Imran first came to Capitol Hill in the early 2000s and Abid joined him in 2005. Imran’s wife Hina Alvi was added to the payroll in 2007, while Abid’s wife, Natalia Sova, appeared in 2011. Finally, in 2014 the youngest sibling, Jamal, joined the payroll in 2014 at the age of 20 with a salary of $160,000.

“In Imran’s wife’s offices, she didn’t show up or rarely showed up and Imran would handle it,” a former House staffer with direct knowledge of the brothers told TheDCNF. “Once in a while he would take her around to the offices but after a while he stopped even putting up the illusion and did all that stuff himself.”

The former staffer said “Jamal was always there,” but Imran would only work “odd hours.”

Since 2003, the family has collected $5 million overall, with Imran making $2 million and Abid making $1.5 million, according to Legistorm.com, which tracks congressional staff data. Of some 25,000 people who have worked in the House since 2010, only 100 have taken home more than Imran.

As “shared” employees, their salaries were cobbled together with part-time payments from multiple members, with a result that the Awans appeared at one time or another on an estimated 80 House Democrats’ payrolls.

Yet the brothers spent significant time in Pakistan, TheDCNF was told. They even had time beginning in 2009 to operate a Northern Virginia car dealership, with Abid as its day-to-day manager. The dealership received a $100,000 loan that was never repaid from Dr. Ali Al-Attar, a onetime Iraqi politician who fled the U.S. on tax charges and who reportedly has links to the terrorist group Hezbollah.

Among the House Democrats employing the Awans was Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee Chairman whose tenure there was marked by a disastrous email hack that she blamed on the Russians.

Some of the House Democrats terminated the suspects on their payrolls following the meeting with investigators, but it’s uncertain how many have done so.

Court documents show that Imran was flush with enough cash to loan $30,000 to a friend. Yet Abid declared bankruptcy in 2012, discharging debts to others while keeping retaining ownership of two houses.

The interactive graphic below shows the sources of the Awans’ congressional income.

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