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In the military, defense attorneys' subpoena requests go through the government, which can potentially reveal important information about how they plan to handle the case. Ashmawy says he made the tactical decision to avoid using them.
"I would do my own investigations from scratch for my clients, and I would do it without the benefit of a subpoena. I got very good at calling people up and getting them to cooperate," Ashmawy said.
The skill is valuable in an ethics office that was not given the authority to subpoena testimony or documents.
"You have to talk to people in a way that gets the information you need," Wise said. "You need to put certain people at ease when that's appropriate and in other cases impart on them the seriousness of the situation, and Omar does both of those things."
The office is small. There are just seven staffers in addition to Ashmawy, and not all of them work on investigations. Its annual budget is only $1.5 million. Even so, the OCE opened 32 cases during the 112th Congress as of the end of the second quarter. Ten of those were sent to the Ethics Committee for further review. Ashmawy credits the commitment of his co-workers - and a little bit of elbow grease - when asked how he makes it work.
"People ask me how and I always say that we are doing it the old fashioned way - really hard work and dogged determination," Ashmawy said. "The process is working and I'm proud to be a part of it."