The balance of power in the Virginia Senate is now uncertain as a Democratic state senator, Ghazala Hashmi, faces allegations of lying about her residence, potentially rendering her ineligible for office. Last week, Democrats secured control of the state House, and the Senate remained under Democratic control by a slim margin.
Hashmi’s victory gave Democrats a 21-19 majority in the state Senate. However, if it is determined that she lied about residing in the district, she could be ineligible, leading to possible Republican control. Tie-breaking votes would then be cast by Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears.
The complaint against Hashmi alleges that she claimed residence in an apartment in North Chesterfield while actually living outside the district on Bosham Lane in Midlothian. The complaint includes a detailed spreadsheet with evidence, such as surveillance notes, photographs, and records of her car being at the Midlothian home.
If Hashmi did live in the Chesterfield apartment, concealing ownership of the Midlothian home on election forms could be considered a felony. The Certificate of Candidacy Qualification, signed by Hashmi, requires candidates to confirm their residence and disclose property interests over $5,000. Hashmi checked “no” and did not list the Midlothian home, which she and her husband have owned since 1999.
The potential consequences for knowingly making false statements on election forms include a maximum fine of $2,500, confinement for up to ten years, and loss of the right to vote.
Hashmi, currently representing the old Senate District 10, decided to run in the newly redistricted District 15. While she won the election with 62% of the vote, these allegations could impact the certification of the election. Republican Hayden Fisher, her opponent, intends to challenge the certification, claiming Hashmi’s disqualification would mean he ran unopposed by law. The complaint by four neighbors, dated October 31, raises concerns about Hashmi’s eligibility and is addressed to Chesterfield County Registrar Missy Vera.