The growing House IT scandal is one of the “one of the all-time congressional scandals in the last 30 years,” Republican Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis told the Washington Free Beacon.
DeSantis has requested a briefing from the Capitol Police on the growing scandal, the Free Beacon reported. DeSantis is a member of the House Oversight Committee and chairs the National Security Subcommittee.
The FBI arrested one of Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s top IT aides, Imran Awan, on bank fraud charges last week as he attempted to flee the country to Pakistan, where he had recently wired almost $300,000. Awan and several of his family members who worked for dozens of House Democrats are suspected of stealing computers and improperly accessing and transferring House members’ computer files. (RELATED: Pakistani Suspects In House IT Probe Received $4 Million From Dem Reps)
Wasserman Schultz refused to fire Awan for months, despite the FBI and Capitol Police’s active investigation into the members of the Awan family. She finally fired Awan only after he was arrested at the airport. The Democratic leader threatened the Capitol Police chief in May for gathering evidence on her IT staffers’ alleged crimes. Wasserman Schultz, the former head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), threatened the police chief with “consequences” if he didn’t return computer equipment that she said belonged to her.
The Awans received millions of dollars in taxpayer funds for their work as IT staffers for Democratic congressional members. They had full access to dozens of members’ emails and confidential files, and it is near impossible to track what they did with their access, according to a former House technology worker with first-hand knowledge of the situation. Several House IT aides fear the Awans are blackmailing Democratic members of Congress with information they acquired through their IT positions.
“I’m pushing very heard to get a full briefing from Capitol Police as soon as possible,” DeSantis told the Free Beacon. “There’s clearly criminal elements to this and I think there will be more going on. There’s probably going to be ethics issues on why these [taxpayer] funds were spent that [Wasserman Schultz] and others will have to deal with.”
On Monday, a non-partisan ethics watchdog filed a complaint against Wasserman Schultz with the Office of Congressional Ethics. (RELATED: Ethics Watchdog Files Complaint Against Wasserman Schultz)
“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,” said Matthew Whitaker, executive director of The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT).
“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,” Whitaker added.