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Debbie Wasserman Schultz Defends Paying IT Aide After Firing By Congress

Image: Debbie Wasserman Schultz Defends Paying IT Aide After Firing By Congress
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (AP)

By    |   Friday, 04 Aug 2017 08:19 PM

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended her decision pay her IT aide for six months after he was fired by Congress and banned from the network of the House of Representatives.

"I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again," the Florida Democrat told The Sun-Sentinel on Thursday. "There are times when you can’t be afraid to stand alone, and you have to stand up for what's right.

"It would have been easier for me to just fire him."

Wasserman Schultz, who resigned last year as head of the Democratic National Committee in the WikiLeaks email debacle, fired the aide, Imran Awan, 37, last week after he was arrested on bank fraud charges at Dulles International Airport while trying to leave the United States.

She has come under widespread attack by Republicans and watchdog groups, who charge that Awan's arrest indicated that far more was going on than she was acknowledging.

According to FBI documents, Awan and his wife allegedly claimed a property used to secure a home equity line of credit was a "principal residence," when in reality it was a rental property.

Wasserman Schultz reiterated that no evidence had been presented showing that Awan's work for Congress was improper.

A law enforcement official familiar with the case told the Sun-Sentinel that after Awan’s arrest there was no evidence of anything beyond the mortgage fraud for which he had been charged.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington said it would have no further comment beyond the federal complaint because the case was pending.

According to court documents, Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, had wired $283,000 to Pakistan in January.

The wire transfer included $165,000 from the home equity line of credit, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

In 2016, Wasserman Schultz paid Awan $20,000, according to spokesman David Damron. For this year, received about $7,800 through his firing on July 25.

Wasserman Schultz told the Sun-Sentinel that she hired Awan when she went to Congress in 2005.

He was recommended by then-Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler.

"I had grave concerns about his due-process rights being violated," Wasserman Schultz said. "When their investigation was reviewed with me, I was presented with no evidence of anything that they were being investigated for.

"And so that, in me, gave me great concern that his due-process rights were being violated," she added. "That there were racial and ethnic profiling concerns that I had."

Awan, a native of Pakistan, is a naturalized American citizen, Wasserman Schultz said. His wife, Hina Alvi, was in Pakistan, according to court documents.

Wasserman Schultz said that Alvi, too, was naturalized — and that their children were born in the United States.

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Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended her decision pay her IT aide for six months after he was fired by Congress and banned from the network of the House of Representatives.
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2017-19-04
Friday, 04 Aug 2017 08:19 PM
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