Rep. Mike Honda’s fundraising drive to pay legal bills stemming from an ongoing ethics probe is off to a surprisingly slow start. And his top adversary is questioning whether the incumbent from San Jose purposely stalled the effort so contributions wouldn’t be reported until after the June 7 primary.
The House Committee on Ethics granted Honda permission in January to set up a legal expense trust fund to defend himself amid a continuing investigation into whether his taxpayer-funded congressional office worked in tandem with his re-election campaign two years ago — in violation of House rules.
Honda spent more than $200,000 in campaign funds last year on the matter, but through the first three months of this year, his new legal expense trust fund had received three contributions totaling just $1,750.
Here is a copy of the filing: Honda legal defense fund.
The filing immediately raised red flags with Ro Khanna, Honda’s top rival for his Silicon Valley congressional seat. Khanna’s spokesman, Hari Sevugan, called on Honda to release the names of donors making contributions since the March 31 filing deadline. Those contributions won’t have to be released until the end of July.
“Given that the next reporting period isn’t until two months after primary day, and Mike Honda’s pattern of providing special favors to his top donors, the voters have the right to know who is funding his legal defense before they vote. Congressman Honda should immediately disclose all contributions to his legal defense fund between April 1 to today, and on a rolling basis going forward till primary day, as well as all expenses incurred for legal work done this year related to his defense before the House Ethics Committee.”
Honda’s spokesman, Vedant Patel, demurred on disclosing names of donors and went on the attack against Khanna:
“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.”