It is evident that things are bad in Washington D.C. when the man in charge of investigating allegations of wrongdoing by Congress members is facing criminal charges for unethical misconduct.
Omar Ashmawy, the staff director of the Office of Congressional Ethics, has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and other violations following a car accident in September in Pennsylvania, the Washington Examiner reported.
Ashmawy, who has held his current position for 12 years, has been placed on leave ahead of a preliminary court hearing scheduled for November 1.
Arrested and charged with DUI
Yahoo News was the first to report on the September 10 incident involving Ashmawy in Pike County, Pennsylvania, in which he is alleged to have driven off the road and over a stop sign before hitting two parked cars and ultimately crashing into the front porch of a house.
The homeowner, Hector Fernandez, came outside after hearing “loud booms” and witnessed a “highly intoxicated” Ashmawy who appeared “stunned” and “disoriented” and allegedly offered to pay for all of the damage if Fernandez refrained from calling the police.
The police were called nonetheless, and Ashmawy was arrested on suspicion of DUI after refusing to perform a field sobriety test or take a blood alcohol test.
According to a court summary, he now faces four criminal counts, including disregarding traffic lanes, careless driving, violating restrictions on alcoholic beverages in a vehicle, and DUI.
Placed on temporary leave
As staff director and chief counsel for the Office of Congressional Ethics, Ashmawy is in charge of overseeing preliminary investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Congress members and, according to Yahoo News, was only placed on leave this week after the office was contacted by the reporter about the DUI incident a month earlier.
“We take this matter very seriously and the Board will be reviewing the circumstances surrounding it,” the board’s co-chairs said in a statement that also noted that Ashmawy had been placed on leave and would be temporarily replaced by one of his top deputies, Helen Eisner, who would serve as acting staff director.
Ashmawy also issued a statement of his own about how the incident had been a “wake-up call” with regard to his “alcohol dependency” problem, for which he was now seeking treatment.
Previously arrested and sued over a 2015 bar fight
Ironically enough, this isn’t the first time that Ashmawy has faced trouble, as the same investigative journalist had reported in 2017 for Foreign Policy about a 2015 bar fight involving Ashmawy had been accused of sexually harassing and verbally and physically assaulting multiple women before being himself assaulted by three men.
He never faced any charges, however, though the men who assailed him did, and he did face a lawsuit alleging the assault and harassment of women and improper use of his government position to influence local law enforcement, but that lawsuit was later settled out of court.