Krishanti Vignarajah drops lawsuit to affirm eligibility to run for governor

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Krishanti Vignarajah with her husband Collin O’Mara and their baby girl Alana. (Courtesy: krishformaryland.com)

NEW YORK – Indian American Democratic gubernatorial candidate Krishanti Vignarajah has dropped a lawsuit she had filed against Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign and the state Board of Elections, in which she was asking a judge to affirm her eligibility to run for governor, according to a Bethesda Magazine report.

Vignarajah’s attorneys were scheduled to appear at a hearing in Annapolis, Maryland, to dismiss the case; however, Vignarajah dropped the lawsuit on Monday, according to online court records.

Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the state’s Attorney General’s Office, wrote an email to Bethesda Magazine on Tuesday stating that Vignarajah “voluntarily dismissed the case” and she does not know why.

“As we detailed in her pleading, Krish is absolutely eligible to run and serve as Governor. In light of the defendants’ concessions, we determined that no further litigation is necessary at this time.” Andrew Herman, an attorney who represented Vignarajah in the case, said in a statement.

According to Bethesda Magazine, Vignarajah filed the case in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in October, asking a judge to rule whether she has a right to appear on the ballot for the state’s June 26 primary election as the question of her eligibility was raised after Bethesda Beat reported that she was a Gaithersburg resident who had previously worked as an aide to Michelle Obama and had voted many times in Washington, D.C. while she was registered to vote in Maryland.

She most recently cast votes in D.C. in 2014, which an election law attorney said could potentially make her ineligible to run for governor in Maryland as the state constitution requires a candidate for governor to have lived and been registered to vote in the state for at least five years leading up to the election, according to Bethesda Magazine.

Vignarajah had indicated in her initial complaint that she was suing the state Board of Elections and the governor’s campaign because she believed members of the campaign team and Mary Wagner, the board’s director of voter registration, had questioned her eligibility to run for governor, according to Bethesda Magazine.

According to Bethesda Magazine, state attorneys did file a motion to dismiss the case in November, and wrote that it is impossible for anyone to challenge Vignarajah’s qualifications to run because she had not formally filed to run for governor yet.

Vignarajah told Bethesda Magazine that despite the votes she cast in D.C. and the fact that she used a D.C. address to register to vote in the city, she is still eligible to run for governor because her Maryland voter registration has remained active since 2006.

Vignarajah has still not filed her candidacy with the Board of Elections as she has not named a lieutenant governor running mate yet; the filing deadline is Feb. 27, according to Bethesda Magazine.

Vignarajah told Bethesda Magazine that she has raised $431,000 since launching her campaign in September, including a personal loan of $100,000 and the Washington Post reported that most of her contributions have come from out of state donors including other Indian Americans as well as celebrities like Ashley Judd and Meryl Streep.

According to her website, Vignarajah has served in the Obama White House as a Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama and at the State Department as a Senior Advisor under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Vignarajah’s website states that she was only 9-months-old when she and her family escaped a country on the brink of civil war and came to the United States with $200 in their pockets; both of her parents eventually became teachers.

After graduating from Woodlawn High School in Maryland, Vignarajah attended Yale College where she earned a Master’s degree in Political Science and a B.S. in Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, according to her website.

According to her website, she was also a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, where she received an M.Phil. in International Relations before returning to Yale Law School, where she served on the Yale Law Journal.

During the Obama Administration, Vignarajah managed and led White House and State Department programs related to entrepreneurship, private sector investment, infrastructure, women’s issues, engagement with youth and religious communities, climate change, and budget development and execution.

Vignarajah has also worked at McKinsey & Company, where she consulted for Fortune 100 companies, practiced law at Jenner & Block in Washington, DC, clerked for Chief Judge Michael Boudin on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and taught at Georgetown University as an adjunct.

Vignarajah has also spoken widely about women empowerment and recently delivered the commencement address at Hood College, according to her website. According to her website, Vignarajah lives with her husband, Collin O’Mara, a conservationist and sportsman who currently serves as CEO of the National Wildlife Federation and they welcomed their baby girl Alana, in June.

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