Virginia Democrats last week took control of the state House and retained control of the state Senate by one seat — but a winning senator may have lied about residing in the district, a situation that could lead to the chamber falling into Republican hands.
Democrats are slated to control the state Senate 21-19, but if Ghazala Hashmi is ineligible to hold office because she lied on her campaign paperwork, then a situation could arise where she is replaced by a Republican, and Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears would cast tie-breaking votes.
Virginia Senate candidates are required to live in the district they are running for, and Hashmi filed candidacy paperwork saying she lived in an apartment on Boulder Lake Drive in North Chesterfield in Senate District 15.
But four neighbors filed a complaint saying she actually lives outside the district on Bosham Lane in Midlothian, and they provided a spreadsheet saying they had driven by the house 62 times during the month of October to document her residency. The notes include her car being there late at night and early in the morning, and her leaving the house shortly after 8 a.m. It also includes photographic evidence.
Putting Hashmi in a particular bind, if she did live in the Chesterfield apartment, then she may have committed a felony by concealing her ownership of the Midlothian home on sworn election forms.
The Certificate of Candidacy Qualification, which she signed March 14, 2023, says, “I now reside at the address shown below in the district in which I seek office,” under which she listed the North Chesterfield apartment.
The form also asks, “Do you or a member of your immediately family, separately or together, hold an interest valued at more than $5,000 in real property? DO NOT INCLUDE your principal residence.” She checked “no,” and did not list the Midlothian home. Real estate records show that she and her husband have owned that — worth nearly $600,000 — since 1999.
The form says “knowingly making any untrue statement or entry in this document is a felony under Virginia law. The punishment is a maximum fine of $2,500 and/or confinement for up to ten years. Also, you lose your right to vote.”
Hashmi is a current senator representing the old Senate District 10, which includes Midlothian. But after once-a-decade redistricting this year, her house became part of a new District 12. But she decided to run in neighboring District 15, representing Chesterfield County and part of Richmond, and apparently rented an apartment to have an address there.
Her home of 24 years is not currently listed for sale, according to real estate websites. Her car, observed to be parked there regularly, is easily identifiable because it has special legislator plates.
Hashmi won her election against Republican Hayden Fisher last Tuesday with 62% of the vote. Fisher told The Daily Wire, “I plan to stop them from certifying the election. She’s disqualified, that means I ran unopposed as a matter of law.”
“There’s no question whatsoever that she does not live in that apartment,” he said. “She definitely clearly intentionally lied on that form. And she does not reside in the district so she should not represent it.”
“She made no genuine effort to actually move into the district, she just rented an apartment. Why don’t you just sell your house and move into the district? She just doesn’t even care. The arrogance is mind boggling,” he said.
Fisher, a lawyer, said Hashmi’s votes must be declared null and void, and therefore the election goes to the second-place candidate — him. Holding a new election would not be appropriate because it would not punish the conduct, he said, and because of Democrats’ new law requiring 45 days of early voting, it would be enormously expensive to taxpayers and candidates, and leave residents of the district without a senator for months.
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