(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) In last week’s closely watched election in Virginia—one that could have national implications for the 2024 presidential race—Democrats took control of the state House of Delegates and also held on to their state Senate majority by one vote.
But now, news has broken that a winning senator-elect may have lied about her residency status, leading to a situation wherein Republicans could retake control of the upper chamber, the Daily Wire reported.
Senator-elect Ghazala Hashmi—who allegedly lied on her paperwork about her residency—is exonerated, Democrats will control the senate by a 21-19 margin. If she did, in fact, lie and loses her projected seat by default, the chamber will be tied at 20-20 and Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears would be the tie-breaking vote.
Hashmi defeated Republican Hayden Fisher last week, gaining over 60% of the popular vote in the district in which she ran, Senate District 15, which covered much of the city of Richmond.
Virginia Senate candidates, however, are required under state law to live in the district which they are representing.
According to Hashmi’s candidacy paperwork, she has an apartment on Boulder Lake Drive in North Chesterfield in Senate District 15 of the state.
But nearby neighbors have alleged that Hashmi does not actually live at her listed address. They documented and photographed her living out of a home in Bosham Lane in Midlothian—outside of District 15.
In total, they visited her Bosham Lane home 62 times in October, taking photos of her car and her person, which were both there practically every evening.
Tax records also suggest that Hashmi may live elsewhere.
The issue stems largely from the state’s most recent round of redistricting. Hashmi is the incumbent senator for Senate District 10, which previously covered a large urban section of the city of Richmond but now encompasses a largely rural area west of the city, where a Republican easily won.
It will be up to the court to confirm that Hashmi has a secondary residence in her district and to decide whether it meets the legal definition of a “dwelling.”
That decision could ultimately impact other races as well, given the recent upheavals in the electoral maps, which forced many incumbents out of their previously held districts.
Hashmi downplayed the issue on Twitter, accusing Fisher of being an election denier.
Leave it to MAGA election deniers to spread lies and throw a tantrum over the outcome of an election. I’m proud the voters have re-elected me so I can keep serving our community, and I am excited to continue delivering results for Virginia families.
— Ghazala Hashmi (@SenatorHashmi) November 14, 2023
However, if the court determines that she lied about her residency, it is possible she committed a felony, having sworn an oath that “I now reside at the address shown below in the district in which I seek office.”
The form even lists the fact that such a lie would be a grave crime.
“Knowingly making any untrue statement or entry in this document is a felony under Virginia law,” the form says.
“The punishment is a maximum fine of $2,500 and/or confinement for up to ten years. Also, you lose your right to vote.”
According to Fisher, he will not back down until Hashmi is punished for her failure to follow the law.
“I plan to stop them from certifying the election,” he said. “She’s disqualified, that means I ran unopposed as a matter of law.”
He added that there is “no question” that she does not live in the apartment that she listed. For Fisher, “she definitely clearly intentionally lied.”
A similar issue arose on a national level recently after it was revealed that Rep. Adam Schiff, a powerful Democratic congressman representing a Los Angeles area district in California—who is currently running to be a U.S. senator for the state—only maintains an apartment there, but has his primary residence in Maryland, where he sends his children to school.
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.