Rep. Ron DeSantis called Thursday on the Justice Department to investigate the finances of a former staffer of fellow Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz after his arrest on a bank fraud charge.
“The allegations levied against Imran Awan are alarming and could have serious national security ramifications,” DeSantis, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, wrote in a press release accompanying his letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“The Department of Justice must work to immediately mitigate the damage done by Awan and take whatever measures are necessary, including freezing illicit funds, in order to fully investigate this incident,” DeSantis wrote.
Awan was arrested July 24 as he attempted to leave the United States for Pakistan, where his wife had previously moved. He, his wife, two other family members and another associate all worked as House IT staffers and had been under investigation since February by the U.S. Capitol Police for allegedly pilfering computer equipment and attempting to gain unauthorized access to the House’s computer network.
National security aside, the case has a political dimension for DeSantis, a likely candidate for governor who has mused about calling Wasserman Schultz to testify before the judiciary panel about the case.
The case has captured the attention of conservatives abuzz with speculation that Awan — despite the lack of evidence — might have been involved in the hack of information at the Democratic National Committee when Wasserman Schultz was chair. The U.S. national intelligence community has blamed the hack on Russia.
Though other House Democrats fired Awan and his family as IT consultants after the investigation began, Wasserman Schultz stood by him until his arrest. The day before his arrest, the Daily Caller reported Awan’s house was raided by the FBI, which seized smashed computer hard drives. It is unclear whether the bank fraud case is directly related to the cybersecurity probe.
Wasserman Schultz has refused to comment on the case in person and her office said Thursday that it had not seen DeSantis’ letter.
“After details of the investigation were reviewed with us, my office was provided no evidence to indicate that laws had been broken, which over time, raised troubling concerns about due process, fair treatment and potential ethnic and religious profiling,” Wasserman Schultz’ office said last week in a statement to reporters. “Upon learning of his arrest, he was terminated.”