Rep. Mike Honda Creates Trust Fund for Ethics Probe Defense

Rep. Mike Honda’s congressional ethics probe is nearing its first birthday, so he’s chosen to do the responsible thing and create a trust fund for its future.

Last year, the congressman reportedly spent more than $200,000 in campaign money to pay lawyers and crisis communications consultants for his and his staff’s legal representation. Honda’s decision to create a new committee to bundle additional funds for that defense—first reported by the Mercury News—appears to be a rare acknowledgment on his part that the investigation into pay-to-play accusations and his office’s alleged misuse of House resources is more than just a procedural blip.

In December, Honda requested and received permission from the House Committee on Ethics to set up the legal defense fund.

“I think it's fair for people to know that their campaign contributions are being used for the campaign,” he said.

Establishing the new committee, titled the Michael Honda Legal Expense Trust Fund, allows the eight-term congressman to continue raising money for his re-election fight against Ro Khanna, San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio and others, while also bundling up to $5,000 per person in additional contributions for his legal defense fund.

If this seems like a loophole but also a surprisingly transparent way of parsing out contributions, not to worry: The legal defense fund has to file public reports, but they can only be accessed by going in person to a building in Washington D.C.

Honda campaign manager Michael Beckendorf told the Merc he expects the legal defense fund’s first report to note “minimal” costs, as the congressman has not been called to testify before the House Committee on Ethics and a subcommittee has not been created to follow up on leads—a standard practice before any actions such as sanctions or reprimands.

One cost saving will come from the campaign bringing all communications in house after ending its relationship with San Francisco-based consultants Singer & Associates, which Honda paid $15,000 last year.

A call to Beckendorf was not immediately returned.

Honda has argued that even if a House violation did occur, that wouldn’t be the same as breaking the law. Ballotpedia, a website that bills itself as the Encyclopedia of American politics, explored the accuracy of this statement.

Josh Koehn is the managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

9 Comments

  1. Mike is an idiot, he lies and cheats. Time for a new voice. I am sick and tired of these elected people who take our money and sit in office for 30 years and do nothing for us. But he does get to sleep at hearings on our dime! But the idiot voters who keep him in office, shame on you as well.

    • There should be term limits on federal elected officials just as we have term limits on state elected officials.

      With regard to M. Honda, it’s not just the local voters who have kept him in office, the local democratic party machinery and labor unions also have worked to keep him in office.

      We need people who actually represent the voters. I’ve voted for M. Honda in the past, and won’t do so again.

  2. How about a Go-Fund-Me campaign so that Mike might again Go-F-Us in Washington?

  3. I dislike Honda. I would never have voted for him originally. But let’s get real, folks:

    Honda will have 16 years seniority if re-elected. What does that mean?

    In the House, that means Honda can divert massive amounts of Federal money to his District — to us; his constituents.

    But if Khanna gets elected, he will be just a freshman Congressman, with NO seniority. He will be unable to have Honda’s influence for many years; OUR tax money will be diverted into other Districts!

    So even though Honda is no good ethically (and no one has convinced me that Khanna is any better), I think it would be stupid to shoot ourselves in the foot, and give up someone who can bring in the money, for someone who CANNOT. That’s just the way it works.

    I don’t like either one of them. So I’m voting my pocketbook.

    • > Honda will have 16 years seniority if re-elected.

      There is no chance that the Democrats will be a majority in the House of Representatives.

      Honda will be a back bencher with 16 years seniority.

      His clout in Washington, D.C. will be exactly ZERO. Exactly the same clout as rookie Congressional wannabe Khanna.

      Come next January, there will be a new Sheriff in town.

      You can bet your sweet bippy that one of President Trumps first acts, after repealing Obamacare, will be to knock the California High Speed dodo bird in the head with a shovel and bury it.

      The only decision that district voters have to make is which irrelevant non-entity they want sitting in Congress, snoozing or making paper airplanes out of their Congressional pay stub.

  4. Smokey,
    What massive amounts of your children future debt has this good old boy spent on your district Smokey.
    I’m still waiting to hear about that 50% increase you worker bees are going to bless us poor seniors on SSI with.

  5. Congressman Mike Honda has served his district at the behest of his constituents effectively for years & has done far more for them than all of his detractors combined. If the ignorant & disgruntled haters who continuously malign him here with their inane diatribes actually represented a significant number of their neighbors,he wouldn’t be our Congressman now. The shrinking minority of angry right-wing Republicans in the South Bay just become more irrational & shrill as they near extinction & their hateful yet humorous harangues make me happier with each passing day. And speaking of passing I wonder how many more of them will pass before election day ? Let’s hope it’s a lot of them,starting with those commenters trashing him above ! A world completely devoid of Republicans would be a far more pleasant place !!!

  6. > A world completely devoid of Republicans would be a far more pleasant place !!!

    Bad news, Frank.

    There are Republicans lurking EVERYWHERE in Silicon Valley.

    They have just re-registered as Democrats to avoid persecution, show trials and waterboarding by people like you.

    But when they hook up behind closed doors . . . Ooooo La La!

  7. Oh frank,
    Give it a break, without Republican’s to freeload off of the whole bunch of you would starve to death,run out of water and your mother would stop wiping your butt.