Wasserman Schultz Defends Keeping Staffer on Payroll While Under Federal Investigation

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz / Getty Images
August 4, 2017

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) had no qualms about keeping an IT staffer on her payroll even while he was under federal investigation.

House Capitol Police opened an investigation into Imran Awan and four other Democratic contractors in February. Despite every other member of Congress severing ties with those staffers, Schultz continued to keep Awan on her payroll, even after his House IT privileges were revoked.

Schultz only stopped paying Awan in July, the day after he was arrested for bank fraud at Dulles Airport while attempting to flee to his native Pakistan.

But in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel, Schultz defiantly defended her decision to keep employing Awan. "It would have been easier for me to just fire him," she said.

"I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again," the former DNC chairwoman said. "There are times when you can't be afraid to stand alone, and you have to stand up for what's right."

Schultz said she believed the investigation into Awan might have been racially motivated. "I had grave concerns about his due process rights being violated ... there were racial and ethnic profiling concerns that I had," she said.

"The right-wing media circus fringe has immediately focused not on this run-of-the-mill investigation just reporting the facts, but jumped to outrageous, egregious conclusions that they were trying to, that they have ties to terrorists and that they were stealing data," Schultz said.