FACT Calls for Probe of Congressman Cleaver for Abuse of House Resources
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
FACT Says U.S. Missouri Rep Paid Both an Indicted House IT Aide and “ghost employee”
FACT, today filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II. (D-MO) for grossly misusing House resources by allowing “ghost employee” Rao Abbas to receive over $60,000 of tax payer funds for IT work he did not perform, and for accepting IT services from a non-employee, Imran Awan, infamous House IT aide currently facing bank fraud charges.
Specifically, according to FACT’s complaint, Cleaver stated the now infamous Imran Awan performed IT services for him, even though Cleaver did not employ Awan, except for a $200 payment in 2014. In what has become a high-profile scandal and ongoing investigation on Capitol Hill, Awan has been banned from the House IT system and is currently facing bank fraud charges. Additionally, Cleaver paid over $60,000 to Rao Abbas to supposedly do IT work even though Cleaver publicly stated he did not know Abbas.
Abbas, a friend of Awan, was “employed” by Cleaver from 2013 to 2016. Prior to being paid by the Congressman, Abbas was working at McDonald’s and had no formal IT training. Furthermore, a tenant in the home where Abbas lived claimed that Abbas “appear[ed] to be home most days.” When Cleaver was asked about Abbas by a reporter last year, he said “I don’t even know [Abbas].” Like Awan, Abbas was barred from the House IT systems in 2017 after becoming the subject of a Capitol Police probe.
“The evidence indicates Congressman Cleaver failed in his basic responsibility to account for his staff and to ensure that those he was paying were actually doing the work they were hired to do,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of the Foundation of Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “What’s more disturbing is that not only do we not know why an individual apparently worked for no salary but what, if any, potential security breaches Cleaver’s office might have been exposed to given that both of their clearances to work on House computer systems were later revoked for nefarious behavior.”
Congressman Cleaver violated two straightforward House ethical guidelines. First, Members are prohibited from accepting services from non-employees and second, Members are also prohibited from employing individuals who do not actually perform work, especially with taxpayer funds.
FACT urges the Office of Congressional Ethics to immediately investigate Cleaver for these serious and far reaching violations to determine whether he accepted IT services from Awan and whether Abbas was a “ghost employee.” Additionally, FACT is requesting that the OCE recommend that should the case be referred to the House that certain Members recuse themselves from considering this case. Since several House Members employed other friends and family members of Imran Awan and may have information about the employment status and actual work performed by those employees, those Members have a clear conflict of interest and should immediately recuse themselves.
In July 2017, FACT filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) for continuing to employ and compensate Awan after he was barred from the House computer system and under criminal investigation. Wasserman Schultz only fired Awan after he was arrested on bank fraud charges attempting to flee the country the morning of July 25, 2017.