Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the lawyer of former IT staffer Imran Awan claim the investigation and questions surrounding this scandal are nothing but racism and islamaphobia by Republicans and presumably the law enforcement officers investigating.
But the facts of the investigation, along with interviews with Schultz and U.S. Rep. Diane DeGette, shows why the scandal matters, and why their constituents should be concerned.
Beginning in 2009 until this year, Awan, his wife, three brothers and a friend, were employed by 31 Democrats plus the Democratic Caucus. The total payout is estimated at $4 million.
The cabal was paid through the House committee system, where each Democratic member of contributes to the salary, and included panels that handle sensitive information including the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committee.
But it’s not just voter information and private correspondence that is kept on House computers.
When a constituent asks their lawmaker for help getting federal benefits, such as Social Security, veterans or health care, a lot of personal information including Social Security numbers and birth dates are needed to process those requests.
Schultz assures us that “classified” information is not stored on computers so the Awan clan had no access, she said.
Private information of constituents is not considered classified, so this is not reassuring.
In February, the five Pakistanis were accused of “stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the house IT network.”
There are also accusations that computers were stolen, and police say they recovered smashed equipment from Awan’s home.
All of the suspects were then denied access to the House computer network after nearly eight years of operating those computers, and DeGette says that without this access, they could not do their jobs. They were let go by everyone except Schultz.
Awan wired $283,000 to Pakistan from an allegedly illegal loan from the congressional credit union, and was arrested July 24 as he was leaving the country.
His wife was briefly detained before leaving the country on March 5 with their children, household goods and food, and nearly $12,500 in cash. She was allowed to leave and they have not returned.
Stealing house computers, compromising information on those computers by using dropboxes to pass it to God knows who, transferring large amounts of cash to a country with strong terrorist-ties, “procurement violations and data transfer violations.”
But Schultz says Awan is only under the microscope because he is Muslim.
In other words, he’s the victim.