Hasan M. “Jay” Jalisi owns many properties in his capacity as the owner of a real estate management company, but the question of where the candidate for House of Delegates hangs his hat is drawing questions.
Jalisi, a former physician who owns health care, trading and property management companies, is one of three Democrats vying for three seats, against one Republican, in the 10th District in Baltimore County. He is also the subject of a complaint filed both with the Maryland State Board of Elections and in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.
The complaints, filed by the Republican rival, allege that Jalisi lives in a large home at the end of a tree-lined private drive three miles from the Caves Valley Golf Club in the 11th Legislative District and not in a commercially zoned home that fronts busy Reisterstown Road, less than one-tenth of a mile inside the 10th District.
William T. Newton, a Republican candidate in the district that is nearly 6-to-1 Democratic, alleges in the complaint that Jalisi continues to live in the home along the 11600 block of Greenspring Avenue.
“He does not live there,” Newton said. “I don’t care what he tells you. It’s a commercial address.”
Newton filed the complaint at the end of September asking the Maryland State Board of Elections to investigate the matter, according to emails obtained under the Maryland Public Information Act.
In an Oct. 7 response, also obtained under state public records laws, Sarah Hilton, director of election reform and management, denied Newton’s request saying that the board is “unable to consider an administrative complaint regarding (Jalisi’s) residency.”
Hilton said Newton could file a challenge in Circuit Court, which Newton did that day in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.
Jalisi, in a lengthy phone interview, maintained that he has lived in the property along the 11000 block of Reisterstown Road since June or October of 2013, when he separated from his wife, whom he said he has known for 25 years.
He filed to run for office in the 10th District that December and won the primary earlier this year.
“I worked hard,” Jalisi said.
Jalisi said it is a trial separation and that the couple hopes to reconcile, though doing so could place him back outside the district in which he is current running.
Jalisi said he had not seen the complaint and called it “a witch hunt.”
“A lot of people were surprised that I (won) and now people are trying to pull me down,” Jalisi said.
But questions remain about where Jalisi lives.
Despite filing for office in December, Jalisi did not change his residence on his voter registration until May 27, according to voting registration records.
A campaign sign outside the Reisterstown Road property says it is the campaign headquarters for Jalisi.
A young woman who answered the door wearing a Jalisi campaign T-shirt said the building was the campaign headquarters and that Jalisi did not live there. The candidate arrived a short time later, pulling up out front in a black sports utility vehicle. He drove away before speaking with a reporter.
Workers at the Greenspring Avenue home said it was the Jalisi residence and that Jalisi’s wife was home. She declined through those workers to speak to a reporter.
Jalisi disagreed that the campaign worker had made the statement regarding where he lives and said she told him she did not make any such remark. He added that she was not in a position to answer the question.
“These are volunteers, they are not the cream of the cream in terms of political operatives,” Jalisi said. “I respect them. They help me win.”
He said workers at his home were hired to do work for his wife and that he has never met them. Jalisi said he frequently hires workers to maintain his properties.
“I own several properties in the area,” Jalisi said. “Does it mean I live at all of them? What do you think? Property management is my business.”
Later in the interview, he said he had in fact personally met one of them — a man he called Josh, who was later identified as one of two workers at the Jalisi home Tuesday.
The issue of residency when it comes to political campaigns has been a difficult one since a 1998 court challenge involving then-Sen. Clarence Blount, a Baltimore City Democrat.
In that lawsuit, Blount was accused by a primary opponent of living in Pikesville with his wife while his district was in Baltimore City. The apartment he kept in the district had no phone.
The state Court of Appeals ruled Blount could run in the city, even if he didn’t regularly live there. The court said in its opinion: “The requirement is that one must be domiciled in the district, and domicile is not synonymous with primary place of abode.”
The issue has come up from time to time in other campaigns.
Last year, Democratic former Sen. Art Helton lost a challenge to his residency after elections officials ruled he had lied about where he lives. Helton was ultimately able to satisfy the board requirements and continued as a candidate but lost in the primary election.
In 2010, the same issue arose in a Baltimore County Council campaign in which Bill Paulshock, a Democrat and owner of a seafood business, registered a home that fronted his carryout restaurant as his domicile while opponents claimed he was living in a Kingsville home with his wife and children.
Paulshock maintained that he was legally registered but told The Towson Times: “I sleep at all my residences.”
This is not Jalisi’s first brush with complaints related to his campaign.
Last week, he agreed to pay a $2,500 fine after being charged writing 28 checks on behalf of his campaign by the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor. State law prohibits candidates from making such disbursements.