Anuja Rajendra, an Indian American who is running for the Michigan State Senate has been criminally charged for falsely representing herself as the incumbent on campaign material.
Rajendra, the CEO of BollyFit who lost her primary race in August, was arraigned on criminal charges on November 13, has been charged on two counts of false incumbency designation, a misdemeanor which carries a maximum fine of 90 days in jail and a fine of $500.
A hearing is scheduled for January 10.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who is representing Rajendra in her case, has said that Rajendra’s speech has been compared to that of President Donald Trump’s, who has not been criminally charged for his statements which have incited violence and racial animus.
“It is beyond ironic that the president of the United States regularly tells bold-faced lies with impunity, yet this first-time candidate was charged with a crime for allegedly making an isolated misleading statement during her unsuccessful bid to represent Washtenaw County,” Michael Steinberg, the legal director for ACLU of Michigan is reported saying on the Web site Michigan Live.
The ACLU said that they are arguing that the First Amendment protects even allegedly misleading speech; therefore claiming that Rajendra cannot be subjected to criminal prosecution because she “never intended to suggest that she was an incumbent.”
Rajendra lost the seat being vacated by state Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), during the primary in August.