Wasserman Schultz Continued Paying IT Worker Suspected of Stealing House Computers

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz / Getty Images
July 27, 2017

Computer expert Imran Awan, who was formerly employed by several congressional Democrats, only had Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) paying him after he was accused of stealing computers and data systems in February.

Awan was arrested Tuesday on bank-fraud charges at the Dulles International Airport while trying to board a flight headed to Pakistan, according to the Miami Herald.

The Weston Democrat has not explained in detail why she continued to employ Awan until Tuesday when she fired him — after he was arrested on bank-fraud charges at Dulles International Airport in Virginia attempting to board a flight to Pakistan.

And she has not elaborated on what work Awan did for her after he lost access to the House computer network.

Schultz declined to answer questions about him on Wednesday.

David Damron, Schultz’s spokesman, accompanied her on the House floor Wednesday and informed a reporter that she would not be taking any questions about her former employee.

Schultz did, however, release a statement on Wednesday evening that indicated she initially thought profiling contributed to Awan’s firing: "After details of the investigation were reviewed with us, my office was provided no evidence to indicate that laws had been broken, which over time, raised troubling concerns about due process, fair treatment, and potential ethical and religious profiling. Upon learning of his arrest, he was terminated."

Schultz and seven other House Democrats each paid Awan more than $1,000 in 2017 for IT work. Shortly after the investigation was announced in February, records show that everyone except her stopped supplying Awan with a salary after February, the Herald reported.

"He was terminated as soon as we learned about the allegations of wrongdoing," said Joyce Jones, spokeswoman for Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, who paid Awan $1,166 for work in 2017. "His official termination date was February 2, 2017."

One other Democrat, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, paid Awan through the end of February, according to congressional salary records.

But Wasserman Schultz continued to employ Awan even though the other Democrats purged him from their payroll. Awan was well-paid during his time in Congress. He made $164,000 in 2016 and $170,000 in 2015, according to congressional payroll records.

Awan’s lawyer, Chris Gowen, described the case in a written statement as "part of a frenzy of anti-Muslim bigotry" and that Awan has no intention of leaving the U.S. to avoid the bank-fraud charges and investigation.

Awan pleaded not guilty to bank-fraud charges and is currently released under a high-intensity supervision program that restricts him to traveling no more than 50 miles from his home, on top of 24-hour GPS monitoring and curfew restrictions, the Herald reported.

Schultz resigned as Democratic National Committee chair a year ago when WikiLeaks published thousands of emails that showed party favoritism for Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).