Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign has sent out another mailing claiming Democratic challenger Ro Khanna “resigned from Commerce Department after missing performance marks,” but when pressed, acknowledges there was no relation between the two.
Khanna’s campaign also is reiterating that he left the Commerce Department with plaudits from his superiors, and Khanna is now airing a new online ad calling attention to Honda’s attacks.
The Honda mailer says Khanna “worked as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, where his department failed to meet four out of six performance targets. He resigned after just two years to switch careers again.”
As I wrote a few weeks ago of a previous Honda mailer, this claim is based on a Government Accountability Office report from September 2011 which gauged the success of the department’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service in supporting President Obama’s National Export Initiative, launched in 2010. “In fiscal year 2012, CS will implement revised performance measures that align more closely with the NEI,” a summary says. “Although CS did not meet four of its six performance targets in 2010, it achieved increases in most of its measures as it shifted to address NEI priorities.”
Khanna was a Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary from August 2009 to August 2011; his name does not appear anywhere in the 71-page GAO report. And Khanna’s campaign provided an August 2011 letter from Francisco Sanchez, then the Commerce Department’s Under Secretary for International Trade, commending Khanna for “leading an important agency during challenging economic times” and rendering valuable service to the nation.
Asked whether Honda is implying the GAO report led to Khanna’s departure from Commerce, spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said he stood by the quote he gave me last time. “We’re saying that Khanna has a record of trying to build his resume, rather than actual public service,” Kembaiyan had said. “This explains why he was so absent on the Parks & Rec commission, and why he left Commerce after just two years. He started raising money to run for Congress just one month after he left Commerce.”
In other words, whatever the mailer’s implication, they are NOT claiming Khanna left Commerce because of the GAO report.
Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Honda “is continuing to mischaracterize Ro’s record.”
“But the facts are clear: Ro oversaw 108 domestic offices and implemented the President’s National Export Initiative, fought for labor to have a seat at the table, led clean technology trade missions abroad, and delivered a critical manufacturing grant to Fremont, amongst many other accomplishments. Frankly, the Honda campaign’s attempt to rewrite the truth is bizarre,” Law said. “Ro has run a positive campaign focusing on growing the economy to create good paying jobs, ensuring people have the skills needed in the 21st century, leading by example on government reform, and championing an internet bill of rights. These are the issues that are relevant to improving the lives of people in the 17th district — not Ro’s college election nearly two decades ago.”
Khanna launched this online ad Wednesday that features this very Honda mailer:
In other 17th Congressional District news, California Attorney General Kamala Harris attended a fundraiser for Honda on Tuesday night at the San Francisco home of venture capitalist Andy Rappaport and his wife, Deborah. “He has been an effective champion in Congress on behalf of California’s justice system and has been there for its residents on a range of issues: from fighting to end domestic violence, improving public safety, ensuring civil rights of all people are protected and putting a stop to drug trafficking,” Harris said of Honda in a news release issued Wednesday morning. “Silicon Valley needs Congressman Honda’s effective leadership and it is my sincere hope we can continue to gain from it for years to come.”