Ro Khanna dismissed allegations that his campaign manager stole proprietary donor info from his opponent, Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose), as political gamesmanship.
In an answer to a federal lawsuit filed by Honda’s re-election campaign, Khanna accused the incumbent of perjury. Khanna also called the legal volley an attempt to distract voters from an ethics investigation focused on an alleged pay-to-play scheme between Honda’s congressional staff and his most generous donors.
“In a clumsy attempt at an ‘October Surprise’ (as well as to district voters from its own ethical lapses), Honda makes flimsy accusations that it was grievously injured …” Khanna’s attorneys state in a motion for continuance to a later date.
In Honda’s first public statement since suing his challenger, he likens Khanna to a Russian hacker.
“Like all Americans, I take internet privacy very seriously,” Honda wrote in a prepared statement. “When I first learned that Mr. Khanna and his campaign manager had illegally accessed my confidential documents, I was shocked. What's worse is that Mr. Khanna refuses to take responsibility for his actions or acknowledge any wrongdoing. Mr. Khanna claims to be the voice of ‘new politics’ but this recent incident highlights that he and his campaign embody the absolute worst of Washington—lies, deceit, and conduct we would expect from radical Republicans or Russian hackers but not from someone who calls himself a Democrat.”
Honda’s lawsuit, which he filed last week in a San Jose federal court, claims that Khanna’s campaign chief, Brian Parvizshahi, illegally accessed computer files packed with private information about people who donated to the incumbent. The suit centers on Parvizshahi, who resigned the day the lawsuit became public.
According to the suit, Parvishahi interned at Arum Group—a Democratic consulting firm that helped Honda with fundraising—for a month in 2012. When he quit, however, no one at the organization revoked his access to Dropbox accounts linked to lists of donor names, emails and phone numbers.
Nearly two years later, Honda’s camp ended its contract with Arum Group and Parvizshahi began working for Khanna’s campaign to oust Honda from Silicon Valley’s 17th Congressional District. After switching to team Khanna in January 2014, Parvizshahi allegedly kept logging into the Dropbox file with Honda’s donor info.
Parvizshahi allegedly accessed those files 44 times before the breach was discovered this past spring. The lawsuit accuses him of violating federal anti-hacking laws.
Khanna said that Honda offered no evidence that he “suffered irreparable harm” and “embarrassment” from having a challenger’s campaign solicit support from his donors, some of whom Khanna says he had been in contact with years prior to the alleged hacking.
“[The] Honda [campaign] admits that it learned all of the purported bases for its allegations by May 2016,” Khanna’s motion states. “It chose to remain silent for four months. It did not even contact the Khanna campaign to request an investigation or otherwise raise the issue. Only now, as Honda is facing defeat in the general election did the Honda campaign file this suit.”
A day before the complaint was filed, a Politico report noted that Honda had compared his year-long ethics probe to “a teacher parking in another teacher's parking spot that didn’t belong to her or him. There’s rules about that ... that’s the level of infractions.”
To read Khanna’s answer to the complaint, click here.