Editor’s note: This story was originally published at 8:12 p.m. on Aug. 7. It was updated at 1:35 p.m. on Aug. 8 to include statement from a spokesperson for the Moore-Miller campaign.
A member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee is calling for the committee’s chair, Saman Qadeer Ahmad, to resign, alleging she pressured him to vote against a committee candidate and that she claimed she was doing so on behalf of Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller (D).
Committee member Nathan Feldman, who represents District 15 on the panel, alleges that Ahmad threatened his political future and cited candidate Susan Kerin’s criticisms linking Miller to the Hindu nationalist movement called Hindutva.
Ahmad denies the allegation and rejects the call for her ouster. A spokesperson for Miller also denies the claims.
The call for her resignation comes as the committee owes nearly $14,000 to the Internal Revenue Service and has been criticized for a lack of transparency in addressing the debt.
Feldman forwarded to MoCo360 an email he sent Monday to several committee members. In it, he alleges that Ahmad called him over the phone on Feb. 10 and told him not to vote for Kerin, who was running for a seat representing District 19 on the committee. Feldman alleges that Ahmad told him that she was asked by Miller to ensure he was not voting for Kerin.
However, his email appeared to cast doubt on the claim that Ahmad was speaking on Miller’s behalf.
“The chair spoke in an aggressive and menacing way, insisting that I not vote for Susan Kerin for D19. I am now aware that Chair Qadeer Ahmad and Susan Kerin previously knew each other, and had worked together on several issues campaigns in local politics,” Feldman wrote. “The Chair informed me on our call that apparently, the Lieutenant Governor herself was following the D19 vote closely, and had instructed Chair Qadeer Ahmad to speak to me to ensure that I would not be voting for Kerin for the D19 vacancy.”
Ahmad told MoCo360 she denies all the allegations Feldman made in the letter and registered surprise.
“Nathan and I have had a working relationship. He could have raised this issue at any time, but until now it’s never really come across my attention, or the attention of anybody on the central committee,” Ahmad said. “And so I’m a little bit confused what the motivation is behind this, because ultimately, our work is really to build the party.”
Ahmad, who has been chair since the beginning of 2023, said she was not entertaining the idea of stepping down.
“Why would I resign based on a false allegation?” Ahmad said. “I was elected to this position, and I have worked hard. This is not just about the work of one person, but the work of a committee.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Miller denied Miller’s involvement in the District 19 committee member appointment process.
“The Lt. Governor is focused on the job she was elected to do — delivering results for Marylanders. She has not involved herself in this local committee race,” Connor Lounsbury, a spokesperson for the Wes Moore-Aruna Miller campaign, wrote in a statement to MoCo360.
Kerin did not win a seat on the committee. Cece Grant was selected to the committee and represents District 19 on the panel.
Under the state constitution, the committee conducts the search and selection processes in the case of a Democratic General Assembly member from Montgomery County leaving their post mid-term. This process, which some legislators and good-governance advocates have criticized as undemocratic, is responsible for 41% of the county’s seats in the delegation.
Feldman alleges Ahmad voiced opposition to Kerin, pointing to criticisms Kerin has made and videos she has created about Miller’s political connections to supporters of the Hindutva movement. Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, is a political ideology seeking to establish the hegemony of Hindus. It has been in some cases associated with right-wing extremism and anti-Muslim sentiment, according to the Association for Asian Studies, an academic nonprofit.
In a 2022 interview with MoCo360, Miller said her campaign did not participate in fundraisers hosted by Hindu nationalists.
“Our campaign did our research. None of these people are Hindu nationalists,” Miller said. “Moving forward, I can tell you that we stand with the Muslim American community and we will do what’s necessary to fight against any discrimination and bigotry aimed at them. I can tell you that as a legislator, I have always stood up for rights of the Muslim American community.”
Feldman alleges that Ahmad said Miller was “watching him,” which Feldman said he found “difficult” to believe, and said he doubted Miller was paying attention to the race.
“The Chair told me that she did in fact speak with the authority of the Lt Governor, and that ‘in politics, people have long memories.’ She then told me essentially that if I wanted to have a future in electoral politics, I had best get in line and vote against Susan Kerin—and that the Lt Governor was too important, and that I was too unimportant for Aruna Miller to call me herself. Please recall that I represent D15 (where Aruna Miller lives) on our central committee,” Feldman wrote.
“[This conversation] was, to say the least, very inappropriate, and a gross abuse of power. It also made me question the legitimacy of the chair’s tenureship, as no one should feel free to threaten or claim to speak on the authority of our elected officials except for their own staff,” Feldman wrote. “It is time for us to consider how we can right our ship while we’re still afloat. Aside from a written apology… I think it is time for the Chair to submit her resignation from the Central Committee.”
The timing of Feldman’s letter coincides with a turbulent time for the committee. It owes $13,608 to the IRS, according to members of the committee and leaked documents. An IRS agent stopped by their Rockville offices in June to threaten a lien, members told MoCo360.
Feldman told MoCo360 via phone call that he would let the letter speak for itself and not comment further at this time.
The committee’s next meeting will be Tuesday, according to its website.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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