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By Will Racke
The woman running to unseat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz ripped the Florida Democrat for refusing to answer questions about her top information technology (IT) aide, who was arrested at the airport Monday while attempting to board a flight to Pakistan.
Carla Spalding, the Republican candidate for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, said Wednesday that there are “so many questions” that remain unanswered about IT staffer Imran Awan, including his access to sensitive or classified information and the nature of his overseas financial transactions.
“If there was a security breach of Congress by Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz’s aide, then anyone involved in or having knowledge of the crime must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Spalding said in a statement. “I trust our law enforcement agents will conduct a thorough investigation and get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, I call on Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to step out of the shadows and come clean about what she knows.”
The Pakistani-born Awan has worked for Wasserman Schultz since 2005. As The Daily Caller News Foundation has extensively reported, Awan and three of his relatives were on the payrolls of several House Democrats at inflated salaries, collecting at least $4 million in taxpayer-funded payments since 2009.
Awan had access to all emails and files of dozens of members of Congress, as well as the login credentials to the iPad that Wasserman Schultz used for Democratic National Committee business until she resigned as its head in July 2016, TheDCNF discovered in an investigation.
House authorities told members in February that Awan and his relatives were suspects in a criminal investigation into theft and IT abuses. However, Wasserman Schultz refused to fire him, despite knowing that he was a criminal suspect in a cyber security investigation, and has blocked Capitol Police from searching a laptop they seized because it was tied to the IT staffer.
TheDCNF reported Sunday night that the FBI has joined the Capitol Police investigation and seized smashed hard drives from Awan’s home. Federal agents arrested Awan on Monday at Dulles Airport after discovering that he had purchased a plane ticket to Pakistan and initiated a wire transfer of nearly $300,000 to two individuals in that country, according to a criminal complaint.
Wasserman Schultz has not responded to request for comment on Awan’s arrest or his transfer of funds.
“The American people deserve to hear the truth straight from Wasserman-Schultz,” Spalding said. “If her own staff can’t be trusted with Congress’s email system, then we can’t trust her in Congress.”