An inquiry into possible wrongdoing by IT staffers employed by a number of Democrats in Congress has garnered more attention in recent days, after a prominent lawmaker gave a public tongue lashing to the Capitol Hill police chief, vowing "consequences" over his refusal to return computer equipment that is evidently part of the ongoing investigation.
At issue is a probe into a possible security breach involving Imran Awan, who has worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and other Democratic lawmakers, as a shared information technology worker.
Little has been made public by Capitol Police on what exactly is being investigated; news reports in recent months have linked Awan, several of his relatives, and his wife to some type of Capitol Hill investigation that could involve stolen property and more.
The new scrutiny came after a budget hearing on May 18 with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa; the hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee had escaped notice, until reports earlier this week by the Daily Caller, noting the sharp words that Wasserman Schultz had for Verderosa.
At the end of her Q&A with the police chief, Wasserman Schultz asks what happens when police find lost items.
"I'd like to know how Capitol Police handle equipment that belongs to a member, or a staffer, that's been lost within the Capitol complex, and found or recovered by one of your officers," Wasserman Schultz begins.
The bottom line from the chief was simple - until an investigation is completed, "I can't return the equipment," which is reportedly a laptop from Wasserman Schultz's office.
That answer did not satisfy the Florida Democrat.
"I think you're violating the rules when you conduct your business that way," Wasserman Schultz said bluntly, as she told the chief that he should "expect that there will be consequences."
In the wake of that somewhat jarring verbal exchange, a reporter on Thursday asked House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi about the Awan investigation.
"I'm really not familiar with what you're talking about," Pelosi said.
"We've been busy with a lot of other things," Pelosi added.
U.S. Capitol Police have released little information about what this probe involves, and who exactly is being investigated.
According to U.S. House spending records, Imran Awan was a shared employee for thirteen different House members in 2016, earning in the third quarter anywhere from as little as $300 from a pair of Democrats to $6,624.99 from another.
Awan's pay from Wasserman Schultz fell in between those numbers, as he received $5,000.01 per quarter for work in her office in 2016.
Awan's wife, Hina Alvi, worked for seven Democrats, plus the House Democratic Caucus, earning close to $44,000 in the third quarter of 2016.
Records also show two relatives of Awan's on the Congressional payroll: Abid Awan worked for eight different House Democrats, while Jamal Awan worked for eight others - all as 'shared' employees.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.