The central figure in the burgeoning House Information Technology scandal was arrested yesterday while attempting to board a jet to his native Pakistan. Imran Awan, his wife, and two brothers were longtime employees of a score of House Democrats, collecting more than $4 million in salaries, but were seldom seen on Capitol Hill.
On July 17, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm predicted that the IT scandal was “about to explode.”
When news first broke in February that the IT workers were under investigation by the Capitol Police for theft of House property and possibly breaching security, the Awans were fired by a score of House members who employed them as “shared employees.” The only exception was Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) who kept Imran Awan employed even though he was banned from the House server network. She got around the ban by designating Awan as an “advisor.” Yesterday, Wasserman Schultz fired Awan
From Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller, who has reported virtually all that is publicly known about the scandal:
Imran Awan, a Pakistani-born IT aide, had access to all emails and files of dozens of members of Congress, as well as the password to the iPad that Wasserman Schultz used for Democratic National Committee business before she resigned as its head in July 2016.
When her emails were hacked last summer before she resigned as DNC Chair, Wasserman Schultz blamed the Russians. The fact that Awan may have had access to her email has set off speculation that the emails came from a different source and/or Awan was blackmailing Wasserman Schultz, especially in light of her efforts to keep him on the Congressional payroll.
Awan was charged with one count of mortgage fraud, which could be a placeholder for other charges, including those pertaining to any security breach in Congress. As the Daily Caller has reported, Awan and his relatives own rental properties throughout the Washington, DC and demand cash payments for rent from tenants.
Chris Gowen, Awan’s attorney, reacted to the arrest by stating, “This is clearly a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), one of the Awans’ former employers, previously made the allegation that the Awans are the victims of anti-Muslim bias.
The Awans’ mortgage fraud schemes resemble those of Edul Ahmad, Meeks’ friend and supporter, who was convicted of mortgage fraud in New York. Ahmad obtained mortgages by fraud, filled the properties with immigrants, and demanded rent in cash before defaulting on the loans. Ahmad was sentenced to two years in prison in April. Like Awan, Ahmad was arrested at an airport while trying to flee the country.
In 2007, while Ahmad’s scheme was in full bloom, Meeks received a secret $40,000 payment from Ahmad. He only disclosed the payment later when the FBI began examining his finances as a result of NLPC-generated headlines about Meeks ripping off a Hurricane Katrina relief fund, and other financial irregularities.
Meeks claimed the payment was a “loan,” but there was no note, interest rate, or term. True to form, the House Ethics Committee took no action against Meeks, even though the Office of Congressional Ethics found that Meeks broke House rules and the law by not disclosing the payment.