Congressman Mike Honda really can’t help himself.
Just six days after the House Committee on Ethics extended its investigation into the eight-term congressman, noting that there was “substantial reason to believe” his campaign broke laws forbidding the use of official House resources, Honda’s campaign appears to have gone and broken another rule.
In a photo posted to the congressman’s campaign Facebook page Wednesday, a picture shows a man and the San Jose rep having a laugh in what appears to be Honda’s House office. The post asked people to send in photos of themselves—selfies were recklessly encouraged—along with a short bio and a few sentences of why they support Honda. What the post didn’t mention was the ongoing ethics probe into Honda, or the fact that the photo itself appears to be yet another violation of House ethics rules.
The House Ethics Manual states (emphasis added):
Anything supported with official funds is an official resource, including congressional offices. The House Office Building Commission, comprised of the Speaker, the Majority Leader, and the Minority Leader, has issued regulations governing the use of House facilities. These regulations generally ban solicitation and commercial activity, limit photography, restrict use of meeting rooms to congressionally related purposes, and impose various health and safety restraints. In addition, as is true of all official resources, congressional offices may not be used for the conduct of campaign or political activities.
Honda’s campaign spokesman, Adam Alberti, initially told San Jose Inside that the photo was submitted by a Honda supporter and that “no official resources applied.” Minutes after San Jose Inside sent him the photo by email it was removed from Honda’s campaign Facebook page.
“I reviewed the image you discussed and researched it,” Alberti wrote in a follow-up email. “It was not part of the submissions. The campaign pulled it down from Google images. No official resources were used, but the photo is being removed.”
Neither Alberti nor Honda’s official House spokeswoman, Lauren Smith, would immediately confirm if the photo was in fact taken in Honda’s congressional office. It seems unlikely he keeps two flags to flank his office desk at home, but maybe he’s a stickler for verisimilitude.
The photo itself is more or less inconsequential—except, perhaps,
to the young man who will cherish that day and that photo and his time laughing with the congressman like there was no tomorrow Nguyen Quoc Quan, a mathematician and human rights activist who is 61 years old. The bigger takeaway here is Honda’s campaign, which was unsurprisingly dismissive of last week’s ethics report, yet again failed to recognize the difference between Honda’s roles as an officeholder and around-the-clock candidate.