Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, has been under intense criticism over her retention of Imran Awan as a technology aide. While other members severed connections to Awan after he was accused of wrongdoing months ago, Wasserman Schultz retained him. He has now been arrested at Dulles International Airport in an alleged attempt to flee the country.
Awan is an IT staffer accused of a scheme to double-charge the House for IT equipment. He and his family have made millions of dollars on the House payroll working for Democratic members, according to a Politico report.
Today Wasserman Schultz fired him. However, her refusal to terminate the association seemed curious to many, particularly since he was barred from accessing the House’s computer system since February. In the meantime, the Capitol Police and federal authorities were finding evidence of double billing for computers, iPads, monitors, keyboards and routers. Wasserman Schultz has also been accused of not cooperating with investigators and there are ongoing negotiations over access to her computer. After months of investigation, Wasserman Schultz is still in negotiation over access to her laptop.
Wasserman Schultz appears to be cursed in dealing with computer related issues. She resigned as Chair of the Democratic National Committee after hacked emails revealed that she was actively undermining Bernie Sanders in pushing the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Despite the fact that the emails directly contradicted her statements to the public and the media (and she was one of the chief architects of the disaster in nominating Hillary Clinton), her constituents returned her to Congress.
Awan, 37, of Virginia, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to one count of bank fraud during his arraignment in federal court in Washington, D.C. He was mandated to wear a GPS monitor and submit to a monitoring plan with a curfew. He was also ordered to surrender all his passports.
Meanwhile, the counsel for Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, recently began negotiating with Capitol Police for access to her laptop in the case. Until this point, she had resisted USCP efforts to look at her computer – even suggesting “consequences” for the agency if the computer was not promptly returned.
The criminal complaint and affidavit states that Awan bought a ticket to fly Monday to Doha, Qatar, and then Lahore, Pakistan. Awan is of Pakistani descent. He had a return flight booked for early January.