Congressional Republicans have released an internet video ad blasting Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her employment of and defense of an aide at the heart of a scandal in Washington D.C.
The National Republican Congressional Committee is circulating a 43-second spot dubbed “Corrupt” that says she waited until Democratic congressional information technology aide Imran Awan was arrested in late July to fire him, even though other members of Congress cut him and other suspects loose months earlier. The spot also alleges she did so reluctantly while contending he was the target of Islamophobia.
Awan reportedly was arrested while trying to leave the country and was charged with bank fraud. He and several other members of his family, two brothers and his wife, all Democratic congressional aides, have all reportedly been under federal investigation since at least early in 2017, a probe that became public in February. There have not been other arrests or other charges.
“Scandals, lies and corruption, that’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” the NRCC ad concludes.
Wasserman Schultz fired Awan from her staff on July 25, the day after he was arrested by the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police at Washington’s Dulles International Airport.
In a statement released by her office prior to the NRCC ad, Wasserman Schultz said, in part, “As a mother, a Jew, and a member of Congress, if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s this: my commitment to doing what’s right and just – even if it isn’t what’s easy and simple – is unyielding.
“Undoubtedly, the easier path would have been to terminate Mr. Awan, despite the fact that I had not received any evidence of his alleged wrongdoing; but that is not the woman my constituents elected, and that is not the mother my children know me to be.
She said that the investigation, as she watched reports, raised troubling concerns about fair treatment, due process and “potential ethnic and religious profiling.”
“At the end of the day, there are times in our lives when we must do what may be hard but right, even when there is a cost,” she concluded. “This was one of those times for me and I would make the same decision again.”