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CA17: Khanna mailer, Honda letter create buzz

Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s new mailer attacks incumbent Rep. Mike Honda as a diehard, partisan, tax-and-spend liberal – a move that Honda’s liberal supporters say calls Khanna’s own loyalties into question.

The mailer asks “Have you had enough of Mike Honda?” and cites various sources to underscore how Honda, D-San Jose, consistently votes a liberal line, including on budgetary matters.

(Click to enlarge:)
Khanna mailer p1

Khanna mailer p2

Khanna mailer p3

Khanna mailer p4

Democracy for America – a national grassroots liberal group that supports Honda and has already been criticizing Khanna since mid-2013 as “Republican lite” – blasted the mailer out to its email list Wednesday.

“As the former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, it’s obvious to me that Ro Khanna is campaigning like a Republican,” DFA founder Howard Dean wrote in that email. “Real Democrats don’t use ‘liberal’ as an epithet or attack fellow Democrats for standing up for progressive values like making sure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.”

Meanwhile, Khanna’s campaign is once again accusing Honda of using taxpayer dollars to fund what basically amounts to a campaign mailing.

Much like the pre-primary “franking” complaint Khanna filed in May, Khanna’s campaign says an Oct. 3 letter that Honda’s office sent to constituents serves no real official purpose. The letter is a litany of Honda’s accomplishments – various instances of money he has brought back to the district, legislation he has cosponsored or supported, and so on.

“You can count on me to work to close the skills gap and increase the competitiveness of our workforce, and to continue to work to deliver for our district,” the letter concludes. “Thank you again for letting me serve you in Congress.”

Wonderfully, Khanna was among the constituents who received it.

(Click to enlarge:)
Honda's franked letter to Khanna

As I noted three years ago when Republican challenger Ricky Gill leveled a similar complaint against Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, House members must submit their mailers to the House Franking Commission for an advisory opinion. They cannot contain personal biographical material, make direct references to an election, make statements of a partisan tone or ask for money. The House also imposes a 90-day blackout period on mass mailings prior to an election; that means Honda probably sent these letters only to parts of his constituency, or sent different letters to various segment to get around it being a “mass mailing.” (Read the full checklist here. Or if you really want to know more, click here for the full manual.)

But there are no prohibitions on stating your positions on policies or touting your record or accomplishments as an elected member of the House of Representatives.

Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Rep. Eric Swalwell attended Ebola hearing in Dallas

Rep. Eric Swalwell was in Dallas on Friday for a House Homeland Security Committee field hearing on the Ebola virus.

The only person so far to be diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil, Thomas Eric Duncan, died Wednesday in Dallas. People with whom he came into contact are being watched carefully for signs of the disease.

Swalwell, D-Dublin, and other members of Congress at Friday’s hearing discussed with health officials how the federal government is working to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and prevent a serious outbreak in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security will be implementing enhanced security procedures at the five international airports in the U.S. that account for over 90 percent of travel to the U.S. from areas affected by Ebola.

“As we respond to the Ebola crisis overseas, I called on health officials to aggressively address the situation in West Africa, prepare local hospitals and clinics, and to bust the myths that threaten to cause unnecessary panic,” Swalwell in a statement issued after the hearing.

Swalwell will hold a conference call Tuesday with East Bay hospital officials and the Centers for Disease Control about the Ebola virus and how his office can help to ensure local hospitals and clinics are prepared to screen, diagnose and treat potential Ebola patients.

Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2014
Under: Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | No Comments »

Steny Hoyer, Barbara Lee visit East Bay’s ‘GATE’

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer joined Rep. Barbara Lee on Thursday for a tour of San Leandro’s “The GATE,” an 18-acre building serving as a hub for manufacturers, techies and artists.

Hoyer & Lee at the GATE - photo courtesy of Lee's officeHoyer, D-Md., and Lee, D-Oakland, were there to highlight Democrats’ “Make it in America” initiative, aimed at nurturing U.S. manufacturers to succeed, grow and create jobs. At the GATE, they toured Type A Machines, which makes 3D printers; Phase Space, which deals in motion-tracking technology; and the Hive art collective.

Their visit coincided with the launch of Bay Area Advanced Manufacturing (BAAM), the world’s largest cluster of 3D-printing-related products and services under one roof.

By joining forces, BAAM’s 12 member companies “make it faster, cheaper, and easier to produce goods here in America than overseas,” said Espen Sivertsen, Type A Machines’ CEO. “BAAM is dedicated to developing new manufacturing jobs in the United States as well as new manufacturing technologies.”

Hoyer issued a statement after the tour calling Lee “a leader in promoting the Make It In America plan for jobs and competitiveness, and I look forward to continuing to work with her and other House Democrats to invest in innovation, education, and infrastructure so American manufacturing businesses can succeed and hire more workers.”

Lee called Hoyer “a tireless champion for American manufacturing and American workers.

“It was my pleasure to show Whip Hoyer how the East Bay is leading the way in innovation and advanced manufacturing,” she said. “American manufacturing is growing in the East Bay and across the country. The GATE and other East Bay manufacturers are proof that when companies Make It In America, working families Make It In America thanks to good-paying manufacturing jobs. In Washington, I will continue to push Congress to pass the Make It In America plan so there are more American manufacturers and more good-paying American manufacturing jobs.”

Posted on Thursday, October 9th, 2014
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | No Comments »

My Commonwealth Club chat w/ Rep. George Miller

Please join us this Wednesday evening, Oct. 8 in Lafayette for my public conversation with Rep. George Miller – who is retiring at the end of this year after 40 years in the House – hosted by the Commonwealth Club of California.

George MillerFord was president; former U.S. Attorney General John N. Mitchell, former presidential Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman had just been convicted in the Watergate cover-up; and a gallon of gas cost about 57 cents in January 1975 when Miller, D-Martinez, first was sworn in at the tender age of 29.

Now 69, Miller has chaired, and is still ranking Democrat of, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; has been a key advisor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; and consistently has been among the House’s most liberal voices. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and retired immigration judge Tue Phan of Danville, a Republican, are vying to succeed him in the 11th Congressional District.

“Join The Commonwealth Club to celebrate this long time public servant as Congressman Miller reflects on four decades in office, what he expects to see from Congress in the coming years, the race for his seat, and more,” the club invites.

Check-in starts at 6 p.m. and the program starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Lafayette Library, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette. Tickets cost $12 for club members, $22 for non-members and $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

Posted on Monday, October 6th, 2014
Under: George Miller, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

CA17: Dems spend almost $100k on Honda’s behalf

The television ad that Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, debuted last week is remaining on the airwaves this week courtesy of the California Democratic Party.

The party’s contribution means Honda, D-San Jose, can keep his own powder dry for further ads shoring up his position against Democratic challenger Ro Khanna.

“Our country needs more leaders like Mike Honda, who works hard, behind the scenes if necessary, and delivers results for his constituents and our country,” California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said in a news release. “From his passionate work on educational equity, to expanding Social Security benefits for our seniors, to his unfailing advocacy for equal treatment of all people, Mike embodies the best values of our Party.”

Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said the party is paying almost $100,000 to air the ad; he wouldn’t list the channels on which it will air, but said it’s running in cable systems across the 17th Congressional District.

Also, in case you missed it (though I don’t know how anyone could), tonight is the big Honda-Khanna debate. Don’t miss it!

Posted on Monday, October 6th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 14 Comments »

Anna Eshoo wants to hush aircraft noise

Rep. Anna Eshoo just wants a little peace and quiet.

Four years after her Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act – requiring broadcast, cable, satellite and other video providers to keep the volume of commercials at a level consistent with the rest of their programming – was signed into law, Eshoo has now joined the “Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus.”

As a founding member of the recently created caucus, Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, hopes to raise awareness on the issue of aircraft noise and work to find meaningful solutions to the problem.

“Airports are epicenters of economic growth, but the noise from aircraft can make them pesky neighbors for many residents who live near them, including many of my constituents,” Eshoo said in a news release. “The creation of the Quiet Skies Caucus provides a forum to advance solutions that abate aircraft noise in our communities. I look forward to working with members of the caucus to address the concerns of residents who are impacted by aircraft noise.”

Eshoo’s 18th Congressional District includes Moffett Federal Airfield and gets a lot of flyover traffic headed to and from San Francisco International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport. She and 25 other members of Congress voiced disappointment last month with the Federal Aviation Administration’s handling of aircraft noise and failure to update a decades-old noise limit.

Posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2014
Under: Anna Eshoo, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

CA17: Unpacking the Honda e-mails story

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s supporters are abuzz over today’s San Jose Inside story that says Rep. Mike Honda’s staffers violated House rules against mixing campaign activity with official business.

Sourced from emails provided by a former Honda aide who says he quit after being pressured to help out on the campaign, the story’s most biting claim is that Honda’s chief of staff, Jennifer Van der Heide, early last year coordinated with Lamar Heystek, then the Honda campaign’s political director, on whom to invite to a State Department roundtable.

Heystek wrote that he had compiled “a list of South Asian tech/investment folks who’ve donated to candidates in the past” but not to Honda. Van der Heide replied, “Great lists — how are we doing outreach to them for $? Can we at least collect emails and send newsletters or something if we can’t do straight asks electronically now? Also do you have the list of the South Asians now endorsing/supporting MH? I want to make sure we are including all of them. Invites going out first thing Monday morning.”

This constitutes a mixing of official and campaign events that’s verboten under House ethics rules (House Ethics Manual, page 150), even though Van der Heide’s e-mails came from her personal account and not during work hours, the story says. Heystek left Honda’s campaign in March 2014.

Honda office spokesman Ken Scudder issued a statement Wednesday evening saying “it is the policy of the Congressman, and under the rules of House Ethics, for the office to keep separate official work and campaign activities.

“While it is commonplace for office staff to choose to volunteer their time on campaigns, all of our staff who volunteer do so on their own time and volition, and without the use of official resources,” the statement said. “In this instance, while not a violation of House Rules, we should have taken more care to prevent the appearance of coordination.”

Honda’s campaign declined to comment Wednesday, as did Khanna’s.

It’s not entirely clear what sort of influence Honda or his staff would’ve been peddling here; whether those who attended were eventually hit up for campaign donations; and if they were, whether and how much they gave.

Honda’s staff told San Jose Inside that the event in question was a Feb. 21, 2013 roundtable at Santa Clara University with Mitul Desai, who at the time was senior advisor for strategic partnership in the State Department’s South and Central Asian Bureau. (The event appears in San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra’s archived calendar for February 2013.)

Yet when Desai’s boss, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake Jr., joined Honda a month later to host a roundtable at Microsoft’s Sunnyvale campus on the U.S.-India relationship, Honda sent his constituents an e-newsletter basically inviting anyone who wanted to attend:

2013 roundtable invitation

Nor is there evidence that Honda himself knew of the emails anytime before today. Still, there’s at least an appearance of impropriety if not an out-and-out ethical violation in official staffers and campaign staffers conferring about whom to invite to official events. Your thoughts, readers?

Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

CA17: Honda-Khanna debate details finalized

Final details have been set for the first – and most likely, only – general-election debate between Rep. Mike Honda and his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna.

NBC Bay Area has joined with KQED, the Huffington Post and San Jose State University to co-host the event at 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6 in the NBC Bay Area studios in San Jose.

The 17th Congressional District debate will be moderated by NBC Bay Area Anchor Raj Mathai and will include four panelists: lead panelist Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post; Thuy Vu, host of KQED Newsroom; Melinda Jackson, an SJSU associate professor of political science; and LooLoo Amante, an SJSU student and director of external affairs for the university’s Associated Students. The candidates will be notified of the topics 72 hours in advance; Mathai and SJSU Professor Larry Gerston will offer analysis after the debate.

The showdown will air live on NBC Bay Area, and will be re-broadcast on KQED World at 9 p.m. that evening and on KQED Plus at 11 p.m. KQED Public Radio will also broadcast the debate live on its stations in San Francisco (88.5 FM) and Sacramento (89.3 FM), and the debate will also be streamed live on nbcbayarea.com and on The Huffington Post’s online streaming video network, HuffPost Live. And of course, I’ll be there to tweet and report.

“This is going to be one of the most-watched races across the country this November, and this debate has been long anticipated,” Rich Cerussi, president and general manager of NBC Bay Area, said in a news release. “We’re proud to bring such a strong group of partners together to provide a forum for the candidates to discuss the issues that matter to voters, and help Bay Area voters make an informed choice.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, Mike Honda, U.S. House | No Comments »

Field Poll: Voters unhappier with own lawmakers

California voters are growing less satisfied with their own members of Congress, a new poll shows – and that might be bad news for Democrats.

The Field Poll finds 40 percent of registered voters disapprove of the job their own House member is doing in Washington, while 36 percent approve. That’s a pronounced change from April, when 44 percent approved and 33 percent disapproved.

Polls often show voters are ready to “throw the bums out” of Congress – except for their own “bum,” whom they hold in somewhat higher esteem. But this drop in support for voters’ own House members means incumbents in close races could be at greater risk.

That spells trouble for Democrats, who hold all three of the California House seats deemed “toss ups” by the widely respected Cook Political Report. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, faces former GOP Congressman Doug Ose in the 7th Congressional District; Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Thousand Oaks, is opposed by Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell in the 26th Congressional District; and Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, is challenged by Republican Carl DeMaio, a former city councilman, in the 52nd Congressional District.

The numbers also probably aren’t welcomed by Bay Area’s only endangered incumbent, Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, who’s challenged by fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont.

California voters’ overall view of Congress’ job performance remains predictably dismal, with only 13 percent approving and 75 percent disapproving. That’s similar to Field Polls dating back to early 2010, and is shared by Democrats, Republicans and independents alike.

When likely voters statewide are asked which party’s candidate they would likely support in November’s House elections, 46 percent say the Democrat while 38 percent say the Republican and 16 percent are undecided.

The Field Poll’s survey of 1,280 registered voters, conducted Aug. 14 through Aug. 28, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The sample of 467 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.

Posted on Saturday, September 13th, 2014
Under: 2014 general, polls, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

CA17: Honda & Khanna comment on Obama & ISIL

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, gave rather similar assessments Thursday of President Obama’s speech on action against the Islamic State.

honda.jpg“The threat of ISIL is beyond anything we have seen in the last 13 years since the horrors of 9/11. We have seen that ISIL has no limits to their gross brutality,” Honda said. That is why I support the President’s call to dismantle ISIL through robust regional and international partnerships, supporting local capacities in Iraq, and expanding humanitarian assistance, but without US combat troops on the ground.”

“Only an inclusive and united Iraqi government, in which the rights of all minority groups are respected and represented, will effectively defeat ISIL and extremism,” he continued. “We cannot afford to make the same mistakes of the past. As I have repeatedly said, any sustained military action should be brought to debate and a vote in Congress.”

Ro KhannaKhanna said “President Obama did the right thing in speaking directly to the American people and outlining our nation’s role in leading a coalition to degrade and eventually destroy ISIL.”

“I’m encouraged by his focus on building a coalition of nations and his decision to provide support to those already fighting ISIL on the ground rather than committing American soldiers,” Khanna said. “The next step is for Congress to vote on the authorization of force. That is the system of checks and balances that our Founding Fathers created. But it relies on members of Congress having the courage to take a position instead of sitting on the sidelines and ducking the tough decisions.”

Posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2014
Under: Mike Honda, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 1 Comment »