Politics

Wasserman Schultz Defends Keeping Fired IT Worker

‘I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again,’ Florida congresswoman says

Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she believes fired IT worker Imran Awan is getting additional scrutiny because he is Muslim. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended keeping a fired IT worker on her payroll despite the fact he was banned from the House network and fired by another member of Congress. 

Wasserman Schultz said it would have been easier to fire Imran Awan.

“I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again,” she told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. “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 did fire Awan after he was arrested on bank fraud charges as he was attempting to leave the country. An affidavit filed an FBI special agent said it was likely Awan and his wife tried to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union.

But Wasserman Schultz said she thinks that Awan was put under increased scrutiny because he is Muslim.

“When their investigation was reviewed with me, I was presented with no evidence of anything that they were being investigated for,” she said. “And so that, in me, gave me great concern that his due process rights were being violated. That there were racial and ethnic profiling concerns that I had.”

When chiefs of staff in Congress were told Awan was under investigation in February, Wasserman Schultz worked with the House chief administration officer to create a job that would allow him to work until the investigation was complete.

“He didn’t have access to the network, but he was able to give us guidance and advice and troubleshoot on a wide variety of other technological issues,” she said.

Though Awan worked for other members, Wasserman Schultz has received the most criticism for hiring him since she is the former head of the Democratic National Committee, and questions have been raised whether he was involved in the hacking scandal that ended her tenure as chairwoman.

Fellow Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, criticized Wasserman Schulz and said the topic could be a security breach. He has called for an investigation into the affair.

“There’s just a lot of behavior that is not easy to explain,” he said.

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