A family of Democratic Congressional IT staffers is under investigation for stealing equipment from Congressional offices, possible money laundering, and potentially compromising the House of Representatives’ IT network.
The Capitol Police are investigating Imran Awan, his wife Hina Alvi, and two brothers Abid and Jamal Awan following a data breach this past February, and have barred them from accessing the House network as of March. IT staffers are shared across offices, meaning that the Awans were not employed by any single office.
Between 2009 and 2017, the Awans were paid roughly $4 million. Yet, according to Luke Rosiak, an investigative reporter for the Daily Caller , there is no sign of this money. Imran Awan and Hina Alvi lived in an unremarkable apartment and did not have any significant outward trappings of wealth.
In addition to the income they received from the House of Representatives, the Awans owned several residential properties from which they apparently received income well above their mortgage payments. According to some residents, the Awans asked for everything in cash.
“This could be the biggest ethics scandal in many years” said Ken Boehm, Chairman of the NLPC. “And yet the mainstream media hasn’t picked up on this at all.” Virtually all that known to the public has been reported by the Daily Caller.
Boehm went on to suggest that, in his opinion, there is some evidence of blackmail. “A 20 year old relative of a current House employee was making $160,000 a year” he said in an interview. “Obviously, that’s not the pay scale. Either their employers are incompetent, or [the Awans] are blackmailing Members.
“If there’s damaging information about Members of Congress, that would leave that Member open to some degree external pressure, and there’s some indicators that may have been the case.”
Boehm also expressed concerns regarding the family’s finances.
“Anyone who works for the House of Representatives is required to report all sources of income, but now we know that these people were collecting their rent and security deposits in cash. If they were collecting in cash with no lease, how do we know they have been reporting it? It may be the money was moved to family in Pakistan or otherwise kept offshore, we just don’t know.”
While in theory the Awans did not have access to classified information, they did have access to some information that was not publicly available, such as biographical information on members of Congress. However, Boehm suggested that the staffers may have had access to information they shouldn’t have.
“In theory, members of Congress are supposed to keep all classified information in a single room [a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or “SCIF”]. However, sometimes members aren’t as careful as they should be,” he said. “Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who members of the family worked for, was formerly the chairwoman of the DNC, and as you know, they’ve had problems with computer security in the past.”
“While it’s true that [the Awans] were stripped of their access [to the House IT systems by the Capitol Police, they had it for years. We can assume there was a breach.”
“Ultimately,” said Boehm “this story is still in its early stages, and I think you are going to see a lot more surprising information come out as it develops.”
Jamie Gregora is NLPC’s Washington Reporter.