Ethics Watchdog Files Complaint Against Wasserman Schultz

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A non-partisan ethics watchdog filed a complaint Monday with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in relationship with the developing House IT scandal.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) focused the complaint on the fact that Wasserman Schultz continued to employ and paid House IT aide Imran Awan, even while he was under criminal investigation and banned from the House computer network.

The FBI arrested 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)

Abid Awan, a House IT technician suspected in a security breach, leaves court after separately being accused of insurance fraud. DCNF photo

Abid Awan, a House IT technician suspected in a security breach, leaves court after separately being accused of insurance fraud. DCNF photo

While other House members fired Awan’s family members soon after they were banned from the House computer network, Wasserman Schultz continued employing Awan up until he was arrested at the airport. Wasserman Schultz threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” in May for holding equipment that she said belongs to her as part of the investigation into the Awans. (RELATED: Wasserman Schultz Seemingly Planned To Pay Suspect Even While He Lived In Pakistan)

“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 FACT executive director Matthew Whitaker.

“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.

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 workers said that members of Congress displayed inexplicable loyalty to the Awans and expressed concern that the Awans could be blackmailing congressional Democrats.