WASHINGTON, D.C. — The D.C. GOP has removed anti-Donald Trump, pro-Hillary Clinton delegate Rina Shah Bharara from the D.C. delegation to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The executive committee of the D.C. GOP stripped Bharara of her delegate status in a 14-6 vote Thursday after Breitbart News reported that Bharara actually lives in the state of Virginia, not the city of Washington, D.C. Bharara does not meet residency requirements to be a D.C. delegate.
The D.C. party stressed the need to unite behind a frontrunner and mentioned Trump “in that context,” according to a party official present at the meeting.
Bharara, a pro-Marco Rubio delegate, made headlines for saying that she would support Hillary Clinton if Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. Bharara also publicly criticized both Trump and Ted Cruz for their concern that Muslims might commit terrorist attacks in the United States, citing the fact that she has Muslim relatives.
D.C. GOP vice chair Jim Kadtke sent out an email to fellow Trump supporters announcing the news:
I wanted to send a quick update on what has happened with the Rina Shaw issue. The DCGOP Exec Cmte met yesterday evening, and there was a very heated discussion about Rina that lasted well over an hour. Without getting into details, here are the major takeaways:
Prior to the meeting, the DCGOP Chairman (Jose Cunningham) removed Rina from the Exec Cmte. She was not present at the meeting, but sent a letter defending her actions.
At the end of the discussion, the Exec Cmte voted 14-6 to remove Rina as a DCGOP delegate. There is a formal appeal process through the RNC for this removal, but it is not clear of the timing for that.
Jose and Patrick Mara have apparently been bombarded with complaints about Rina from all over the country. I expect that this issue will not die away immediately. People have also raised some concerns about the validity of the entire DC delegation.
D.C. GOP vice chair Jessie Jane Duff sent out an email on the same pro-Trump thread explaining that the city party wants to “unify”:
It was a private election, not run by the city. So no, there won’t be criminal charges. Rinah will not be certified as a delegate and I’m satisfied with that alone. She can appeal to the RNC in June but considering the overwhelming evidence, I estimate the RNC will respect the DCGOP Chairman Jose Cunningham’s decision not to certify her. The 6 who supported Rinah have zero say in this. Jose sought the executive committee’s input before he made HIS decision to not certify her. He has the sole say and seeking our input was a courtesy and demonstrate good faith on his part.
Of the 6, I know personally a few were misled by Rinah to present her case. Their information was highly flawed and not accurate. They gave no interest in fighting this battle on her behalf.
I saw the list of the vote count. We were supposed to go over it in the meeting but the Rinah issue pushed our meeting to almost 2 hrs. Trump candidates didn’t do horribly overall…
The media attention to the DC local party was overwhelming with the Rinah issue. The first step was to ensure Rinah was removed from the delegation. The leadership was very clear about uniting behind the presumptive nominee and Trump’s name was used in that context multiple times during the meeting. I didn’t ever hear anyone suggest they would go to Cleveland to ensure Trump isn’t the nominee.
“I think she’s done a lot of damage,” Lori Saxon, a Trump delegate candidate who lost the election, told Breitbart News. “My 14-year old daughter and I really campaigned and to find out someone like this actually won? It makes you think.”
The Breitbart News’ report sparked a formal investigation by the general counsel of the D.C. GOP, which requires its delegates to be registered Republican voters and also D.C. residents as of January 1, 2016.
Fairfax County property records show that Shah Bharara jointly owns a house in Reston, Virginia with her husband Niteesh Bharara, a doctor, who bought the house on August 18 for $1.178 million. Both Bharara and her husband were listed in Washington Post real estate records at the time of the sale.
Bharara’s Instagram page, which has since been deleted, showed that in September 2015 Bharara Instagrammed the house with the captions “#OurFirstHome, #VirginiaIsForLovers and #FinallyCrossedThePotomac.”
Thus, Bharara appears to have been primarily living in Virginia as of September, months before the January 1 deadline to meet residency requirements to be a delegate.
In a phone conversation prior to the story’s publication, Bharara told Breitbart News that “I am a registered D.C. voter and I am a resident of Washington, D.C.” But Bharara confirmed that she jointly owns the Reston house, saying, “I do own that property but I do own also in Washington DC.”
Bharara said that she owns a business in Washington, D.C. that is registered. Bharara would not provide documentation that she owns property in D.C., saying “Do I own a property in Washington, DC? I’m not going to make a comment. I don’t really feel comfortable.” Bharara said that there are people “trying to unseat me as a delegate.”
When she spoke of her property in D.C., Bharara was presumably referring to her business.
Records reveal that Bharara’s business Rilax Strategies, a political consulting firm, is indeed based in Washington, D.C., registered to a condo in the District. But property records reveal that the condo is owned by Rajnikant Shah, the delegate’s father. He bought the condo for $460,000 in 2010.
Bharara later said that she has “No comment” on the issue after learning that the city party was investigating her.
A March 2016 Vice News profile explained why Bharara does not like either Trump or Cruz:
As a self-described “Hindu/Jain” with several Muslim family members, Shah Bharara has deep concerns with both candidates: Trump, who is promoting a temporary moratorium on Muslim immigrants and Cruz, who called for patrols of “Muslims neighborhoods” and who Shah Bharara and her family fear is not just an evangelical Christian, but one who “use[s] his religion to govern so openly when we have religious freedom in this country,” calling it “scary for me.”
And she’s also concerned about the anti-Muslim sentiment that is being propagated by members of her own party. “As somebody who’s not a Christian but grew up in the Bible Belt, I was raised in southern West Virginia, I never experienced any incidents of racism or sort of religious intolerance,” Shah Bharara said. “I began to experience things like being called a sand nigger when I moved to DC. I couldn’t believe. I was like, what’s that? I’m not from the Middle East. It was crazy.”
Bharara did not immediately return a request for comment for this report. D.C. GOP spokesman Patrick Mara did not immediately return a request for comment for this report.