Washington: An Indian-origin aide of Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is being investigated for allegedly accepting overpayments from the State Department while working for the former secretary of state.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee said the Office of Inspector General for the Department of State (OIG) has opened an investigation involving potential criminal conduct by Huma Abedin.
Specifically, the investigation examined the circumstances of Abedin's work arrangements, leave status, and conversion from a full-time Department of State employee to a Special Government Employee (SGE) and Senior Advisor to Clinton, Grassley alleged.
Abedin's father is from India and mother from Pakistan.
Grassley said in May 2013, the Department of State allegedly paid Abedin approximately USD 33,000 for "unused" leave, though it is unclear whether she should have been entitled to such a payment.
"During approximately three and a half years as a full time government employee, Ms Abedin reportedly never requested, was approved for, or had her leave balance reduced for use of any sick leave, annual leave, or administrative leave," he said.
"Nor did she request, nor was she approved for any unpaid or excused absence or administrative time for maternity leave. Yet, the Committee has received allegations that the evidence illustrates that she claimed to be, and in fact was, on leave on numerous occasions. If true, then she should not have been entitled to the cash value of her 'unused' leave balance," he alleged.
Grassley sent similar letters to the Office of Inspector General for the Department of State (OIG) and Abedin asking for more detailed information.
Grassley also alleged that Abedin went on a ten day trip to Italy and France with her husband during her time as a Department employee.
However, her time and attendance sheets allegedly indicated that she worked full time, he alleged.
In his letter, Grassley alleged that Abedin while at the State Department simultaneously worked for two other companies.
While she was serving at the State Department as a close associate of the then Secretary of State, Abedin during the same period was also employee of Teneo and Clinton Foundation.
"This started as an inquiry about whether a federal personnel designation works as intended," Grassley said.
"Now, more details are coming in, and they warrant more questions. The bottom line is still whether the taxpayers are well-served by agency practices and spending. No one will know for sure until the State Department is more transparent about how it operates," he said.