Voters don’t always have time to pay attention, so they could be forgiven for assuming Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) is in the fight of his life against the California equivalent of Ted Cruz.
In his eighth term, Honda finds himself embroiled in a House ethics scandal for allegedly misusing official resources for campaign purposes. To deflect attention from this issue, he has gone on the offensive, consistently labeling his chief opponent, Ro Khanna, a puppet of “right wing millionaires and billionaires.”
Never mind that they’re both running as Democrats, or that many of the people who threw gobs of cash at Khanna in 2014, as well as this year’s race, lean to the left.
Candidates, and the political action committees (PACs) that support them, take money from just about anyone and everyone. So, when someone as loathsome as former Enron exec John Arnold, who claims to be a Democrat, throws $250,000 to a PAC supporting Khanna, it’s worth noting that Honda would accept—and has accepted—financial support from anyone who gets him that much closer to the finish line.
Just last week, when Honda’s new legal defense fund—created to pay legal bills for his ethics investigation—disclosed its first quarterly report, a measly $1,750 was all the congressman had raised. His accountants, ever wise to timing their own bills, know that the next reporting deadline doesn’t arrive until after the June 7 primary election, so drawing more attention to the $200,000-plus Honda has already spent on the scandal would be counter-productive. The congressman is now free to raise money without worrying his donors.
When the Mercury News asked Honda’s people how much the legal defense fund has raised since the last reporting period, spokesman Vedant Patel changed the conversation (emphasis added):
“Ro Khanna consistently tries to score cheap political points and smear the reputation of a well respected progressive champion while filling his campaign coffers with money from right wing millionaires and billionaires who want to dismantle social security, outsource good paying middle class jobs, and don’t have the best interest of Silicon Valley’s middle class families at heart.”
A closer inspection of the congressman’s campaign donors, however, suggests Honda’s own wealthy supporters aren’t exactly shy in showing the right some love.
Records filed with the Federal Elections Commission for the last five years show that Honda received at least $115,000 from millionaires and billionaires and who also support GOP and Tea Party candidates.
William Lauder, former CEO of The Estee Lauder Companies, has given Honda two contributions of $2,000 or more in the last two years, while at the same time giving cash to four conservative congressmen. In 2012, Lauder raised $30,800 for the Republican National Committee and $5,000 for Mitt Romney’s presidential run.
Before Stephen Curry ate what was left of Paul Allen’s soul, the Portland Trailblazers owner and Microsoft co-founder gave two contributions to Honda over a 16-month period. Since that time Allen has also supported three Republican senators.
Stunned Paul Allen in slo-mo pic.twitter.com/BdooOHvN42
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 10, 2016
Rocklin-based developer Martin Harmon, who routinely gets down with the Tea Party, supported Honda with a $1,200 contribution in September of last year.
East Bay investor Dennis Albers, tabbed to be a donor in Honda’s notorious “1000 Cranes” fundraising project, has given Honda $1,000 on three occasions since 2011, the most recent contribution coming last June. Albers also gave money to conservatives Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, Mike Lee, Joni Ernst, Eric Cantor and former House Speaker John Boehner.
Additional “cranes” who’ve given to the right include Bill Imada, Sukhan Kim and Ngai Nguyen. All three gave thousands to Honda while supporting GOP candidates.
Hong Myung-ki actually gave Honda $2,700 on Oct. 13, 2015—the same day he gave money to the RNC.
Honda’s campaign manager, Michael Beckendorf, did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Khanna spokesman Hari Sevugan said the reports indicate a double standard:
“If Congressman Honda’s attacks on Ro are to be believed, these donations prove that Mike Honda is nothing but a crypto-Republican, corporate shill. But, of course, that's not true, just as it wasn't true when Honda used the same evidence to launch those attacks against Ro. What it does show, however, is far more revealing.
“It demonstrates Congressman Honda’s willingness to do and say anything to stay in power, no matter how brazenly hypocritical. It demonstrates Congressman Honda's preference for demonizing instead of coalition building; his preference for name calling instead of problem solving.”
So, to summarize, what we have here is a race between two Democrats who will take money/support just about wherever they can get it. They differ on a couple key issues: the economy, charter vs. traditional public schools.
One of them is involved in an ethics scandal.