On March 7, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) submitted a detailed brief with the Chairman of the Office of Congressional Ethics requesting that his office investigate “an apparent and serious breach of House Ethics Rules” by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II.
The conservative watchdog group charges that Cleaver, according to his own statements, accepted IT services from international man of mystery, Imran Awan, whom Cleaver did not employ. FACT also charges that Cleaver paid more than $60,000 of taxpayer funds to Rao Abbas, a former McDonald’s employee who allegedly did not perform IT work for Cleaver.
Awan deserves a sidebar of his own. As a 14-year-old Pakistani, he won a green card lottery for himself and his family. In 2004, Awan began providing IT support for House Democrats and recruited his family to help him plunder House accounts. In July 2017, the FBI arrested Awan on additional bank fraud charges at Dulles Airport as he was attempting to flee the country for Pakistan.
In January 2018, Awan, his wife Hina Alvi, his brothers Abid and Jamal, and his friend Abbas were charged by congressional investigators with logging into 15 member offices and the Democratic Caucus without authorization. Awan was also charged in a separate investigation with threatening to have his stepmother’s Pakistani relatives kidnapped if she cooperated with federal authorities. If nothing else, Awan’s is a textbook case of why the the green card lottery program should be terminated.
According to FACT, in 2013, Cleaver hired Abbas, a former McDonald’s manager, although he had no IT experience. In court documents filed in 2012, Awan acknowledged he owed Abbas an “unknown” amount of money over some international car scam that had gone wrong.
The FACT brief suggests that the well-connected Awan may have gotten Abbas the job with Cleaver as a way of paying him back. Cleaver employed Abbas as his IT Aide from 2013 to 2016, paying him more than $60,000. When questioned about Abbas, however, Cleaver reportedly stated, “I don’t even know him.” Again according to FACT, Cleaver claimed his chief of staff put Abbas on the payroll, a violation of House rules.
Over the years, Cleaver paid Awan a total of only $200. In 2017, both Awan and Abbas were barred from the House IT system after becoming the subject of a Capitol Police investigation. Yet, when asked in June 2017 by the Daily Caller’s Kerry Picket about Abbas, Cleaver stated, “Imran is the guy who worked in our office. I don’t know this other guy. I’ve met Imran.”
“The facts appear simple: Cleaver accepted IT services from Awan, who he did not employ and who he gave access to data and the House IT system,” claims the FACT brief. “Moreover, Cleaver used taxpayer dollars to pay over $60,0000 to Abbas, who he did not know and the evidence indicates did not do work for him.”
“The Office of Congressional Ethics must investigate Cleaver to determine whether he accepted IT services from Awan and whether Abbas was a ‘ghost employee,'” concludes the brief.
Not surprisingly, the local media have uniformly failed to report on this story.