CA17: Khanna rips Honda’s PAC, out-of-state $$$

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign is calling attention to incumbent Rep. Mike Honda’s increasing collection of contributions from people outside the 17th Congressional District and from political action committees.

honda.jpgCrunching numbers from reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last week, Khanna’s campaign noted in a news release Tuesday that Honda, D-San Jose, raised almost $79,000 from PACs in last year’s final quarter, bringing his total 2013 PAC haul to about $313,000 – about 28 percent of his total contributions in the 2014 cycle so far.

Also, more than half of Honda’s individual contributions in the last quarter – about $117,000 – came from outside California, bring his total percentage raised from outside the state in this sycle to 47 percent. About one-fourth of his individual contributions in the fourth quarter came from the Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. area.

Khanna – a Democrat and former Obama administration official from Fremont – has refused to accept any PAC contributions and has received about 80 percent of his contributions from within California. Khanna raised about $425,000 in the last quarter of 2013, while Honda raised about $251,000; Khanna finished the year with $1.97 million cash on hand, while Honda had $623,000 in the bank.

Ro Khanna“We believe these fundraising numbers tell an important story,” Leah Cowan, Khanna’s campaign manager, said in the news release. “One candidate is increasingly reliant on out-of-state and special interest contributions. The other will be answerable to the individuals he represents.”

A spokesman for Honda’s campaign declined to comment Tuesday.

But Kyle Kondik, an expert on congressional elections at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said seeing an incumbent raise more money from outside the district and from PACs than his challenger “strikes me as pretty common.”

“Members of the House can develop a national constituency based on their record in Congress, which a challenger lacks,” he said. “A lot of national contributors won’t want to rock the boat unless they really dislike the incumbent or believe he or she will lose. … Also, while the sources of contributions are definitely worth reporting, I don’t think that attacks by one candidate against the other for contributions are all that meaningful, unless the candidate got a contribution from a very shady/controversial source.”

One other thing I noticed in the FEC reports. If you really want to get down to the grassroots, consider that all contributions of less than $200 are added together and reported as a lump sum under the line item “unitemized contributions.” Khanna’s unitemized contributions for 2013 totaled $42,421 while Honda’s totaled $88,824 – so Honda raised twice as much in small contributions as Khanna did.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Richard Woulfe

    Khanna has raised more money than Honda because he’s working harder at fund raising, Honda is just sitting back passively collecting money from the normal favor seeking Washington special interest groups. Khanna is out-working Honda on the fund raising front – that’s clear. In thinking about why Khanna would make a better Congressman than Honda a key reason – in my view – is Ro Khanna’ work ethic, Khanna is an incredibly hard worker, while Honda – as many know – is just plain lazy. Honda is the longtime incumbent – he’s ahead in the polls (largely due to name recognition only), yet he still can’t seem to raise any money!. That pretty weak in my book. This shows Honda is a disorginized mess insofar as his re-election campaign is concerned, Honda’s not on the ball at all, which – I think – kind of sums up his entire Congressional career, really. Mike Honda is always bringing up the rear.
    This challenger Ro Khanna is a go-getter, you put this guy in that Congressional seat he’ll get stuff done, in a hurry. Keep Honda in this seat you will get the same old same old, Honda falling asleep at meetings, Honda taking lot’s of junket’s, Honda getting no important legislation passed at all in Congress. You need some new blood in this seat, the candidate running – Ro Khanna – is terrific, I think Honda is going to get his walking papers, you watch.

  • Marga

    Honda’s numbers may look “bad”, but if I recall correctly, they are much better than Pete Stark’s used to be. Stark seemed to get pretty much all of his contributions from PACs and out of district. Also, not all PACs are made equally. A PAC representing the interest of teachers is a different animal than one representing the interests of corporations.

    What is ironic is that Honda only needs to take that money because Khanna is running against him. It’d be interesting to see how much money from PACs he took last time around.

    I put put little weight on the fact that Honda got twice as much money in low-value contributions than Khanna, however. There is no way to know how many people actually contributed or what the median was.

    But there is one aspect of Honda’s fund raising that *really* irks me: his campaign sends out surveys or petitions for you to fill out and sign. The latest was a petition on the debt ceiling, but earlier on was a survey on what questions Mike Honda should answer at a virtual townhall. Once you submit it, you get a request for a contribution.

    Now, I understand that this comes from his campaign – but, to tell you the truth, when I see the e-mail, all I see is “Mike Honda” and I don’t stop to check whether it’s campaign mail or regular congressional-mailing list mail (I signed up for both). So I click on it, sign and end up feeling duped. The one with the survey bothered me in particular, as the implication was that I would get my question answered only if I made a contribution (though I’m sure that’s not really the case).

    But, again, Mike Honda probably wouldn’t have to use these fund raising techniques if Khanna wasn’t so good at fundraising.

  • Willis James

    The district is just about the center of the world for “high tech”.

    You have one candidate who is very well informed about that world. The very engine of the local economy.

    Then you have another candidate who (seriously) probably cannot download apps to his cell phone.

    Now, over the next 4 to 8 years, which candidate might better represent the main interests of job creation and prosperity of all the people who need a vibrant local economy?

    What do we have here? The good sense of George Miller and Henry Waxman, or……. some other stark reality.

  • “stark reality?”
    I see what you’re doing there.

  • Elwood

    Some people are more easily duped than others.

    Or perhaps some people have hyperactive dupedar.

  • Elwood

    Always good to get the perspective of Ro’s staff.

  • Crazy_Like_A_Fox

    If I’m not mistaken, Congressman Honda has accepted over $3 Million in PAC and special interest money in his entire career in Congress. You may need to check the FEC filings for the past 13 years to confirm, but I believe that is correct. In other words, Honda isn’t taking that money because he needs it, he’s been taking it his entire career.

  • Elwood

    “PAC and special interest money”

    And just exactly who are these PACs and special interests? Friends of the Muskrat? Save the Snail Darter? Spotty Owl speaks for you?

    $3 million divided by 13 years equals $261k a year + /-.

    How does that compare to the other more than 435 members who have served in the House in that period?

    I am unimpressed.