CA17: Don’t call Ro Khanna a millionaire

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna took umbrage at being called a millionaire by one of Rep. Mike Honda’s supporters and fellow House members.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, on Tuesday invited contributors to a March 17 fundraiser in Monterey Park on Honda’s behalf. The email didn’t specifically name Khanna, but it seems clear Chu wasn’t talking about Dr. Vanilla Singh, a Fremont Republican who entered the race last month, when writing that “Rep. Honda is facing a tough race against a well-funded millionaire.”

Well-funded, yes: Khanna, an attorney and former Obama administration official from Fremont, had about $1.97 million banked for his 17th Congressional District campaign as of the end of 2013, while the incumbent Honda, D-San Jose, had about $623,000.

But millionaire, no. Khanna’s campaign issued a “Truth Squad” communiqué Tuesday noting Khanna “is the son of immigrants, and the product of a middle-class upbringing. Today, Ro is still paying off his own student loans. Ro is not a millionaire.”

“This fundraising email from Congressman Honda’s supporter is just the latest example of a baseless attack waged against Ro,” Khanna’s campaign added. “Candidates and their allies should stick to the facts instead of engaging in ad hominem personal attacks. Congressman Honda should call on Congresswoman Chu to correct her misstatement and set the record straight.”

Chu’s response said nothing of Khanna’s own wealth.

“Ro Khanna’s campaign is well-funded and fueled by maxed-out contributions from far-right conservative millionaires like Peter Thiel and Marc Leder who are actively working against our efforts to move the country forward,” she said via e-mail Tuesday night. “Mike Honda has been a tireless champion for the Asian-American community and his district, as Khanna has said so himself. I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure Mike is re-elected.”

Chu succeeded Honda as chair of the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus in 2011.


CA17: A few Khanna contributors want refunds

Three contributors to South Bay congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign want their money back.

They gave to the Fremont Democrat during the final quarter of 2011, in which he shattered fundraising records with a $1.2 million haul. At the time, it was widely believed he would run to succeed Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in the 15th Congressional District; instead, he later chose to run against Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, this year in the 17th Congressional District. And these three contributors are Mike Honda fans.

After consulting with Honda’s campaign, they sent this e-mail to Khanna on Monday morning:

Dear Ro,

In 2011, you asked us to contribute to your campaign to be Pete Stark’s successor when he retired. You are an energetic, smart person who shared our values, so we gave you $6,000 to support this goal.

But you are not using our money the way you promised. Instead, you’re using it to run against Congressman Mike Honda, a man who has spent his life increasing opportunities for people to better themselves, including you. We cannot support you in this and we don’t want our money to play any part in it either.

We request a refund of the $6,000 we gave you under the false pretense that you would use it to run in an open seat, which you clearly are not doing now. We did not give you the money to replace Congressman Mike Honda — a well-respected, accomplished, former Japanese internment camp survivor, former science educator, Asian-American trailblazer and legislator.

Sophia Yen
Steve Silberstein
Ted Fang

“I want people to know who we are backing and who we feel should win,” Yen, 42, of Los Altos, said Monday afternoon. “I love Mike Honda and I think he’s well qualified and has done so much.”

A clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medical School and a physician at the Center for Adolescent Health in Mountain View, Yen gave Khanna’s campaign $1,000 on Nov. 30, 2011, and said Monday she hopes Khanna “will be honorable” and refund her contribution. She said she knows Khanna from having worked alongside him on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign and for other causes: “I feel bad, but I’d feel worse if he were to take out Mike Honda.”

Fang, 50, of San Francisco – president and executive director of the AsianWeek Foundation and a former editor and publisher of the San Francisco Examiner and AsianWeek – gave Khanna’s campaign $2,500 on Dec. 8, 2011. He declined comment further Monday, saying the email speaks for itself.

Silberstein, 70, of Belvedere, the retired co-founder of a company that makes software for libraries and a prolific philanthropist and Democratic donor, gave Khanna’s campaign $2,500 on Oct. 18, 2011. He couldn’t be reached for comment Monday and Tuesday.

They’re not getting their money back, Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan said Tuesday.

“Ro has been running a positive campaign focused on his ideas and vision for the future of the Bay Area and our nation,” she said. “Since launching his campaign to represent California’s 17th district, Ro has received support from many people who contributed to Congressman Honda in the past. We’re not aware that any of them have requested to be reimbursed by the Honda campaign, nor would we expect the Honda campaign to honor such a request. Because this donation to Ro was made almost two years ago, it would be impractical to return at this point.”

Also Tuesday, Khanna’s campaign launched a “Truth Squad” – with its own Facebook and Twitter accounts – which it described as a group of volunteers in the district “committed to confronting distortions with facts.”

“Ro’s candidacy is about engaging a broad group of voters and allowing them to make an informed choice on the kind of representative they want in Washington. But Ro’s opponents aren’t confident they can win on the truth alone – and that’s why they have been making baseless attacks since we launched this campaign,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law wrote in an e-mail announcing the effort. “When you sign up for the Truth Squad, you’ll get updates and tip sheets so you can make sure your friends, neighbors, and family have the facts about this race. All information that you find on the site will be fully sourced so you can see where we got it.”

UPDATE @ 4:25 P.M.: It seems the “Truth Squad” needs a dose of its own medicine.

In a post that sought to shore up Khanna’s Democratic bona fides, the campaign listed a dozen “local Democratic officials” who support his candidacy. But three of those officials – Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, former Newark Mayor Dave Smith and former Cupertino Mayor Richard Lowenthal – actually are registered Republicans. And I’m hearing that a fourth – Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward – has either made a dual endorsement or no endorsement at all in this race. Click to enlarge:

Truth Squad screencap

Law said this was a minor, behind-the-scenes snafu in which a few local endorsers inadvertently were added to a list of Democratic supporters, and it will be changed immediately.


Truth squad, meet the rapid responders!

And now, one day after Barack Obama‘s campaign rolled out its California “truth squad,” Hillary Clinton‘s campaign has unveiled its “rapid responders” in the Feb. 5 primary states, “a national group of truth tellers who will respond to inaccurate or misleading attacks directed at Senator and President Clinton,” the news release says.

In California, it’s state Controller John Chiang; state NAACP president Alice Huffman; San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom; Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles; and former U.S. Rep. Lynn Schenk, D-San Diego.

Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of truthiness! Perhaps we can have a Celebrity Deathmatch-type showdown — maybe Gavin can represent Clinton against Kamala Harris for Obama, or maybe a battle of the Lynns: Woolsey v. Schenk.


Lee, Miller, Lofgren on Obama ‘truth squad’

Hot on the heels of Barack Obama‘s rout of Hillary Clinton in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, the Obama campaign announced today it’s forming a “truth squad” of California supporters who’ll refute what they say are mistruths spread by Clinton’s campaign.

miller.jpg“Yesterday we watched as the voters of South Carolina sent a clear message to America and voted for change,” House Education & Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, said today. “They rejected the divisive politics of the past and chose progress for the future. According to exit polls, 70% of South Carolina voters said the attacks leveled by the Clinton campaign were unfair. And despite weeks of misleading negative attacks, Barack Obama won because voters in South Carolina, like voters across America, wanted to bring this country together, and change the way business is done in Washington so we can finally stand up to the special interests and solve the problems that matter to ordinary Americans.”

lee3.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who spent time phone-banking for Obama on Saturday at the Oakland campaign headquarters, said, “We’re here today because we know Californians are tired of the same divisive politics that failed in South Carolina. We are organized to make sure that the truth is shared with Californians and to respond to same type of negative attacks that the Clinton campaign tried, and the voters rejected, in South Carolina.”

Take that, Bill and Hillary! (Um, and Ellen Tauscher and Lynn Woolsey, too!)

Besides Miller and Lee, other California Truth Squad members include Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank; Assembly Majority Floor Leader Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles; state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles; San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris; and LA Federation of Labor Executive Secretary/Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo.