Late Wednesday a group of Congressmen met to discuss the ever present and under-investigated case of Imran Awan, the House IT staffer and longtime associate of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Awan has been directly connected to a growing number of violations and questionable activities in DC. He is currently in custody and facing bank fraud charges, as just a part of his list of transgressions.
During the current court proceedings it has been revealed Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi has turned on him. The co-defendants have independent legal counsel, as a result of her charging him in Pakistani court with bigamy, and other violent offenses. It is just the latest development in a story that grows in scope and drama — yet provokes limited curiosity with authorities.
Involved in this meeting were Congressmen Louie Gohmert (TX), Jim Jordan (OH), Scott Perry (PA) and Ron DeSantis (FL), and also sitting in was Daily Caller reporter Luke Rosiak, and Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch. Hearing the known details and some of the numbers connected to these activities illustrate the range of this scandal.
Awan compiled a group of family members and friends who became IT workers within the House of Representatives. He developed an unusual amount of clout and access, and it has been discovered he spearheaded organized graft from this position. The story first broke in February when numerous computers and other tech devices were discovered stolen from nearly two dozen house members. Most of Awan’s ring were relieved of their duties, save for himself as he was brought onto Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s staff as an adviser. Since then a widening list of violations has been compiled against the group.
It has been tabulated that collectively the group committed over 5,400 unauthorized logins to the House server network. It was found that data was routinely collected from members and stored on the servers of then Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), who is now serving as California’s Attorney General. Data was collected without consent from 40 House members, and stored on the Becerra server. From there the data was transferred to an offsite storage network, a serious violation of House standards. It is estimated the amount of that data can be measured in terabytes.
Making this even more bothersome is that Awan had side ventures outside his House duties. He had numerous investment properties, and along with one brother – who also was a House IT worker – he operated an automobile sales business. These were suspected to be money laundering opportunities. One business contact Awan had was with Dr. Ali al-Attar, an Iraqi political figure who has links to Hezbollah. al-Attar is currently a fugitive, wanted by the Dept. Of Justice.
The scope of Awan’s influence in the House is evidenced by his ability to have numerous acquaintances hired on to work as IT specialists, in what are considered “ghost” positions. Over the years millions of dollars were paid in salaries to these questionable workers. One example was a 20 year old brought in who had no IT experience. The on-the-job trainee was collecting a salary of $160,000. One business associate to whom the Awans owed money was placed on the House payroll, a suspected means of paying off this individual. Awan has also been found to have been over-billing for computer hardware to House accounts, with that equipment ultimately turning up missing.
Awan also managed to work the House banking system, through loans and other payouts, to the extent he had been able to wire the sum of $280,000 out of the country to interests in Pakistan. He was almost out of the country in July when authorities detained him at Dulles airport, to charge him with bank fraud. Alvi, who had previously left for Pakistan, was brought back by federal authorities and offered a certain level of immunity for her testimony. The fact that now she and Awan appear to be a divided front leads to much speculation as to how their defenses will play out — and how impactful this will be for Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
As this committee meeting stated, the things more surprising than all these transgressions is the lack of urgency within House leadership to take action on these developments. When asked by DeSantis how these workers gained such power Luke Rosiak stated he has asked numerous House members about who approved these salaries and granted access to these workers, and few if any were willing to answer. The security breaches and data transfers have also failed to generate much curiosity within House chambers.
When presented with the charges and violations by Awan’s group earlier this summer Wasserman Schultz implied this was all due to racism and Islamophobia. This is as farcical a charge as possible once the sheer size of the transgressions is revealed. As was commented on the panel, a version of Islamophobia may actually be in play — people may be unwilling to take this group on out of fear of being called racist for doing so.
It is rather evident that enough has taken place to justify investigations into this matter. There seems to be a stark reluctance in The House for leaders to actually look into the evidence. The way this story continues to build common sense indicates this will become inevitable. However in D.C. common sense has been rationed in short supply.