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California city councilman arrested for voter fraud

By Sarah May on
 February 21, 2023

Already facing a series of unrelated charges, a Lodi, California city council member, Shakir Khan, was arrested last week on election fraud charges dating back to the 2020 election, as CBS Sacramento reports.

In addition to the significant legal jeopardy in which Khan now finds himself, his continued status as a local government official is now reportedly the subject of dispute.

Councilman arrested, arraigned

As Sacramento Fox affiliate KTXL explains, Khan was arrested Thursday and booked into the San Joaquin County Jail.

On Friday, according to SFGate, Khan was arraigned on a total of 14 felony counts, including causing or procuring false voter registration, false nomination or declaration of candidacy, submission of fraudulent registration to the Secretary of State, and fraudulently casting votes.

The alleged fraud was said to have been uncovered during a probe of Khan and his brother involving claims of money laundering, illegal gambling, unemployment fraud, and tax evasion, as SFGate further noted.

San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow said, “Our investigation uncovered that councilman Shakir Khan has attempted to undermine, manipulate, and violate one of our most fundamental rights here in our country...and that is the right to free and fair elections.”

Fraudulent plan uncovered

Withrow also noted that it appeared as though Khan's vote fraud scheme was engineered to target members of the local Pakistani community from which he hails, and at a sheriff's department press conference discussing the charges, videos were shown of individuals explaining the manner in which Khan had pressured them to vote or actually completed a ballot for them.

According to deputies, a search warrant executed at the councilman's home turned up 41 mail-in ballots, and it was later discovered that 23 different people were registered to vote under Khan's address.

Further investigation revealed that 47 other individuals had been registered to vote using Khan's email address and his phone number, according to SFGate.

Adding to the suspicious nature of the situation was the fact that most of the aforementioned voter registrations were new and had been sent to the Secretary of State close together within a narrow time frame.

Resignation claimed

In the wake of Khan's arrest, Lodi Mayor Mikey Hothi reportedly asked to visit the beleaguered councilman in jail, a meeting Withrow says he facilitated and even ensured was recorded on camera, according to Sacramento NBC affiliate KCRA.

Hothi later indicated that during their jailhouse conversation, he and Khan mutually agreed that the best course of action was for the latter to resign from the city council.

To that end, both men signed a handwritten letter outlining the decision, and then the document was taken to the city clerk's office to be stamped.

“We became aware of Shakir Khan's arrest this morning, and I had the opportunity to speak with him here at the county jail and asked for his resignation, effective immediately. He agreed to resign,” Hothi said soon after the meeting, according to CBS Sacramento.

Resignation denied

However, despite having signed the handwritten letter, Khan subsequently denied the assertion that his resignation was in any way official, citing coercion on the part of the mayor, according to KCRA.

An attorney for Khan argues that city officials were wrong to seek a resignation in the manner that they did and that his client should have been permitted legal representation during the meeting at the jail.

“If the city of Lodi attempts to enforce what I think is a bogus resignation, they're gonna enter into significant federal litigation,” attorney Allen Sawyer declared.

Khan himself stated of the resignation controversy, “I was in a trauma. I'm taking that back. I worked hard for my election. I worked hard to serve my community for the last three years,” but whether he will succeed in retracting his signed statement and continue his tenure on the Lodi council are questions that remain unanswered.