Key Democratic Seat Hangs in Balance Due to Senator's Alleged False Residence Claims
On November 5th, 2019, Democratic candidate Ghazala Hashmi made history by becoming the first Muslim woman elected to the Virginia State Senate. However, her victory may come into question after four of her neighbors filed a complaint alleging that she does not actually live in the district she was elected to represent.
Hashmi ran for the newly redistricted Senate District 15, which includes parts of Chesterfield County and Richmond. According to state law, candidates must live in the district they are running for, and Hashmi filed candidacy paperwork stating that she resides in an apartment in North Chesterfield.
However, three days before the election, four of her neighbors submitted a complaint to Chesterfield County Registrar Missy Vera, stating that they have evidence to prove that Hashmi actually resides in a house outside the district, in Midlothian. The complaint included a spreadsheet with notes detailing 62 times during the month of October when the neighbors allegedly witnessed Hashmi leaving the Midlothian residence and driving to the apartment in Chesterfield.
JUST IN: Virginia Democrats may now LOSE STATE SENATE MAJORITY Amid Allegations of Candidate Ghazala Hashmi's FALSE Residency Claims..
Virginia Democrats recently gained control of the state House and managed to retain their hold on the state Senate by a single seat. However,… pic.twitter.com/yrVMeqKaGL
— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) November 12, 2023
If the allegations against Hashmi prove to be true, it could lead to a serious legal issue as she may have committed a felony by giving false information on her candidacy paperwork. The form specifically asks candidates to list any properties they own worth more than $5,000, and Hashmi did not disclose her ownership of the Midlothian house. This could result in a fine of up to $2,500 and ten years of imprisonment if found guilty.
The complaint also raises concerns about Hashmi's eligibility to hold office if she does not live in the district she was elected to represent. According to Republican candidate Hayden Fisher, who lost to Hashmi in the election, she should not be allowed to serve as a senator as she does not meet the residency requirement.
Fisher, a lawyer, believes that the Board of Elections should remove Hashmi from her position and declare him the winner by default. He stated that she intentionally lied on her candidacy form and did not make any genuine effort to move into the district.
Both Hashmi and Vera have not yet responded to requests for comment. However, Davenport, the Chesterfield County Commonwealth Attorney, who would be responsible for prosecuting any charges against Hashmi, also did not comment on the issue.
If the allegations are proven to be true, it could lead to a significant change in the balance of power in the Virginia state Senate. Democrats currently hold a 21-19 majority, but if Hashmi is disqualified, her replacement would be chosen by Republican Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, giving the party a one-seat advantage.
As of now, it is unclear what steps will be taken to investigate the complaint against Hashmi and whether it will have any impact on her victory. But one thing is for sure, this controversy has put a damper on her historic win and raised questions about her fitness for office.