April 22, 2014

Honda Campaign Doubles Down on Special Interests; Only 32% of Q1 Donations from Northern California


Congressman Honda’s latest fundraising report reflects a doubling down on a strategy of courting special interests and donors from outside of Northern California. In contrast, Ro Khanna has maintained his pledge of refusing donations from PACs and Washington lobbyists. He has also continued to receive the vast majority of his support from here in the Bay Area.

Special Interest Money

In the first quarter of 2014, Rep. Honda upped his special interest fundraising efforts – pulling in a total of $112,960 from PACs and committees,[1] including energy companies, defense contractors and pharmaceuticals. This was the largest amount that he has received from special interests, bringing his total raised from PACs and committees this cycle to $425,446 (22.4%).[2]

Notable special interest donations: 

  • Johnson & Johnson PAC: $9,600
  • Lockheed Martin PAC: $6,000
  • Northrop Grumman: $5,000
  • Amgen PAC: $4,000
  • Comcast PAC: $3,500
  • Abbot Laboratories: $3,000
  • PG&E PAC: $3,000
  • Merck Employees PAC: $2,000
  • Pfizer PAC: $2,000
  • Boehringer Ingelheim PAC: $2,000
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. PAC: $1,000
  • Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. PAC: $1,000
  • The GlaxoSmithKline PAC: $1,000
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. PAC: $500

Local Support

Rep. Honda’s latest FEC report shows that his campaign is receiving proportionately less support from Northern California than he used to – in the first quarter of 2014 he took in only 32% from Northern California. Overall, his campaign has only managed to receive 40% of campaign funds from Northern California whereas Ro has received an impressive 77%. Additionally, a full $431,745 (25%) of Congressman Honda’s money this cycle has come from the DC/ Beltway area (VA, DC, MD).  Rep. Honda often refers to himself as the Congressman for Silicon Valley.  But an examination of his fundraising tells a different story. Regional donations calculated using itemized contributions

The Bottom Line

Washington special interests may have influence in the corridors of Congress, but that doesn’t translate to door knocks, phone calls, and grassroots enthusiasm in the district. Congressman Honda has been a political figure in the San Jose area for over 40 years and has still been unable to muster deep support here in the Bay Area, which remains one of the biggest differences in this election and provides further evidence that enthusiasm is growing for Ro’s change campaign.

NOTE: Regional breakdown of donations calculated using itemized contributions

[1] http://www.fec.gov/fecviewer/CandidateCommitteeDetail.do

[2] http://www.fec.gov/fecviewer/CandidateCommitteeDetail.do


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April 16, 2014

Khanna Calls on Congressman Honda to Return PG&E PAC Money Following Indictment


Ro Khanna sent a letter to Congressman Mike Honda today urging him to return all of his PG&E corporate PAC contributions – including the $1,000 he accepted less than a month ago – following their recent indictment related to the 2010 explosions in San Bruno, CA.

Following is the full text of the letter:


Dear Congressman Honda:

As you know, a federal grand jury last week indicted PG&E on 12 criminal counts based on its actions relative to the 2010 explosions in San Bruno.  According to the San Jose Mercury News, the federal indictment charges that PG&E “failed to properly identify potential threats to the San Bruno pipeline, failed to gather relevant data that could have forestalled the explosion, maintained flawed records and didn’t accurately assess the dangers related to the line.”

The indictment follows multiple investigations subsequent to the explosion documenting that PG&E consistently put profits ahead of public safety. A 2011 audit revealed that PG&E management actually encouraged its employees to ignore significant safety issues.  At the same time, the company took $150 million specifically meant to repair gas pipelines and instead directed it to an executive incentive plan. To this point, PG&E has steadfastly refused to identify who was responsible for these decisions or to assure the public that they have suffered any consequences for their actions.
Federal Election Commission records show that, during the course of your 14-year tenure in Congress, you have taken $28,000 in contributions from PG&E’s Political Action Committee. Those contributions came during the very time that the federal indictment accuses the company of willfully violating federal safety laws and regulations. The FEC records further reveal that you took $6,500 from PG&E’s PAC the last two election cycles -- well after the San Bruno explosion and PG&E’s history of serious safety violations came to light. Further, you accepted a $1,000 contribution on March 21st of this year, less than a week before it was reported that PG&E was likely to face criminal charges.

In light of last week’s federal criminal indictment, I am asking you to return the tens of thousands of dollars in PAC contributions you have received from PG&E.  In addition, I urge you to join with me in demanding that PG&E reveal the individuals within the company who were responsible for the actions and decisions that resulted in last week’s federal criminal indictment.  I believe such steps are necessary to demonstrate to your constituents that you put the rights and safety of California consumers ahead of corporate PAC contributions.  
Thank you for your attention to this matter.  I look forward to your timely response.


Ro Khanna


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April 15, 2014

Rep. Mike Honda's Latest Challenge: He Can't Vote for Himself

From the San Francisco Chronicle

By Carla Marinucci


Seven-term Rep. Mike Honda faces some real challenges as he seeks re-election to his Silicon Valley congressional seat - one of the most unusual being that he can't vote for himself.

That's because Honda, a longtime resident of San Jose, doesn't live in the 17th Congressional District he represents. It's perfectly legal - but as fellow Democrat and former Obama trade representative Ro Khanna tries to wrest the seat away, there's the potential for it to become political ammunition.

The Santa Clara County registrar of voters office confirms that neither Honda's residence, nor his congressional field office, nor his campaign office are located in the 17th district.

Since district lines were redrawn in the 2010 apportionment, the congressman has been a constituent of Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose. His offices are also in Lofgren's neighboring 19th District.

If Honda were a candidate for state office, he'd have problems - the California Constitution requires that legislative candidates live in their district for at least a year before election day.

Legally, "we have decided that it is OK if our federal representatives don't live in our district," said Jessica Levinson, a professor at the Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles. "But it's still something that bothers some constituents.

"And opponents will point it out," she said. "They'll say, 'When you vote for something, you're not even your own representative. Why aren't you dedicated enough to move?' "



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April 1, 2014

CLAIM: Ro Khanna helped Republicans get on the ballot


The baseless claims about Ro were first reported in the San Jose Mercury News on March 27, 2014[1]:

But Jeffrey Wald of Fremont, an Alameda County Republican Central Committee member, wants a Sacramento County Superior Court judge to order the Alameda and Contra Costa county registrars and Secretary of State Debra Bowen to kick Vanlandingham and Rathore off the June 3 primary election ballot.

His lawsuit claims "Khanna recruited candidates to enter the race as Republicans to split the Republican vote three ways, effectively diluting votes that would otherwise be cast in favor of (Vanila) Singh."

But there was never any evidence to support these malicious attacks[2]:

The lawsuit provides no direct evidence proving Khanna helped get Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore into the race.

Within one day, Ro was cleared of any wrongdoing by the judge and the case was closed:

San Jose Mercury News[3]:

Republican booted from ballot, but judge finds no wrongdoing by Ro Khanna

NBC Bay Area[4]:

“Judge: Not Ro Khanna's Fault Republican Dropped from Race”

San Jose Inside[5]:

“Judge Knocks Republican off Ballot, Clears Ro Khanna”

The ruling wasn’t surprising. Ro didn’t know anyone named in the case nor was he associated with anyone close to the people named. The baseless claims launched against Ro for political gain never had anything to do with the case at hand – the dispute was about signatures. All of the malicious and desperate attacks were dismissed immediately, and the case is now closed.

Unfortunately, the judge’s dismissal of the allegations against Ro does not mean there won’t be more attacks. Ro has been gaining ground in the polls and building a grassroots organization never before seen at this scale in a Congressional race. In early March, Ro submitted over 4,000 ballot signatures and the campaign announced that it had reached out to over 100,000 voters. Additionally, Congressman Honda has been facing increasing criticism for refusing to debate. This latest assault was a proof point that those who benefit from the status quo are scared of Ro’s momentum – but it also showed that facts are facts and malicious attacks won’t halt the change coming to the 17th district.

[1] http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_25425325/khanna-recruited-candidates-split-gop-vote-lawsuit-claims?source=pkg

[2] http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_25425325/khanna-recruited-candidates-split-gop-vote-lawsuit-claims?source=pkg

[3] http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_25434818/republican-booted-from-house-ballot-but-judge-finds

[4] http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/South-Bay-Republican-Removed-From-Congressional-Race-252988501.html

[5] http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2014/03/28/judge-knocks-republican-off-ballot-clears-ro-khanna/


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March 27, 2014

CLAIM: Congressman Honda is attending a debate


On January 8, 2014, Ro Khanna submitted a debate proposal to Congressman Honda asking him to participate in monthly debates hosted by local media outlets. At the time, the Honda campaign said they needed to wait until the candidate field was set. That deadline has been passed and nothing has changed: Congressman Honda is desperately avoiding a debate. 

The San Jose Mercury News reached out to both campaigns about a debate that they would co-host with the League of Women Voters. Congressman Honda’s campaign refused to give viable dates and eventually decided not to participate. The Honda campaign also refused to debate on the Ronn Owens show on KGO radio.

In early February, the San Jose Mercury News published an editorial urging Congressman Honda to debate[1]:

“Mike Honda should debate Ro Khanna... declining to debate is wrong. It shows a fundamental disrespect for the democratic system and ultimately for voters.”

Only a few days later, San Jose Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold wrote a piece criticizing Rep. Honda for not debating[2]:

“His refusal so far to debate Khanna bespeaks a man running scared. We need something better than that.”

On March 24, 2014, Congressman Honda’s campaign rejected an invitation to participate in a 90-minute debate hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle, KPIX-TV and KCBS radio.

From the debate invitation:

“Our goal is to provide voters with an opportunity to compare the candidates and their agendas in an unfiltered, in-depth discussion…The debate format would consist of giving each candidate an opportunity to make a 90-second opening and closing statement. The six-member panel would include three representatives from The Chronicle, two from KPIX and one from KCBS. We also intend to give candidates a chance to ask each other questions, and include questions submitted by voters…For The Chronicle, this debate will serve as its pre-endorsement meeting for District 17.”

San Jose Inside[3]:

But for all the partisan sparring going on D.C., Honda seems awfully nervous to take off the gloves and discuss the issues here at home. Honda has skipped numerous candidate forums in the last few months, and now he’s insisting his busy schedule won’t allow him to attend a single debate before the June primary.

Not only is Congressman Honda turning down debate invitations and the San Francisco Chronicle’s pre-endorsement meeting, his campaign is also making false claims that he has agreed to attend a debate.

San Francisco Chronicle[4]:

Honda, however, turned it down. “Congressman Mike Honda will be at the May 3 debate organized by the non-partisan, community-based, League of Women Voters,” said Vivek Kembaiyan, the Honda campaign spokesman.

But even the League’s Gloria Chun Hoo, an organizer of hour long candidates’ forum at Fremont City Hall, said that May 3 event “is not intended to be a debate.”

She said that the forum allow all five CD-17 candidates to respond to the same pre-screened questions. There will be no opportunity for candidates to challenge each other, and candidates will not be asked follow-up questions.

San Jose Mercury News[5]:

“Congressman Mike Honda will be at the May 3 debate organized by the non-partisan, community-based League of Women Voters,” spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Monday. “This televised debate, which has been in the works for months, and which all of the CA-17 candidates have been invited to, is the only debate Congressman Honda will be participating in prior to the June 3 primary election.”

The three League of Women Voters chapters sponsoring the May 3 event in Fremont are calling it a forum, not a debate; candidates there will not have any opportunity to question or respond to each other directly.

We believe it is time for Congressman Honda to engage in a transparent discussion of the issues and avoid the same political games that voters are tired of.

[1] http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_25192718/mercury-news-editorial-mike-honda-should-debate-ro

[2] http://www.mercurynews.com/scott-herhold/ci_25203443/changing-californias-congressional-guard-affects-mike-honda

[3] http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2014/03/26/why-wont-mike-honda-debate/

[4] http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2014/03/24/south-bay-rep-honda-refuses-debate-invite-from-chron-2-other-media-outlets/

[5] http://www.ibabuzz.com/politics/2014/03/24/ca17-honda-wont-go-to-media-sponsored-debate/


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February 25, 2014

Honda Campaign Inflates Record Again

The Honda campaign released a statement today inflating the Congressman’s record in several key areas: 

“As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Honda has a proven record supporting job creation in Silicon Valley,” he said. “The BART extension to San Jose alone, which Congressman Honda helped secure $900 million in funding for, is creating over 10,000 jobs locally. He has passed legislation that led to $4 billion of investment in nanotechnology research & development, as well as a law that has expanded STEM education.” 

Truth Squad already debunked some of these claims in a previous post. Here are the facts again:

  • The Honda campaign also claims that the Congressman has passed "a law that has expanded STEM education”. There is no record of Rep. Honda passing a STEM education bill that he has authored – although his colleagues have successfully led on the issue.
  • Lastly, they continue to exaggerate Rep. Honda’s hand in the BART extension project:
    • In reality, Rep. Honda secured a $2 million earmark for the BART extension from the House Appropriations Committee. He initially asked for $20 million, and the $2 million he actually received was a very small percentage of the $900 million that the Federal Transit Administration ultimately granted the project in 2012.
    • The federal funding only came after voters in Santa Clara County approved a half-cent sales tax.

Congressman Mike Honda has authored only one bill in his entire Congressional tenure that became law: "to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1750 Lundy Avenue in San Jose, California”.

Not a single bill that Congressman Honda has authored (other than the aforementioned post office naming) has been voted on in the House. 

Without a record to run on, Congressman Honda has refused to accept a debate invitation or appear at a single Democratic forum held inside the district.




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February 18, 2014

CLAIM: Ro Khanna is a ‘well-funded millionaire’


Rep. Judy Chu sent out an invitation today to a fundraiser for Congressman Mike Honda with a false description of Ro (February 18, 2014).

“Rep. Honda is facing a tough race against a well-funded millionaire.”

- Feb. 18 email from Congresswoman Judy Chu

THE FACTS: Ro 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. 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.

Ro is the only candidate in the 17th district who has proposed bold reforms to make Members of Congress live like the rest of us. His plans include taking a personal pledge to refuse Congressional pay raises, ending the gold-plated Congressional pension system, and banning legislators from lobbying for five years after leaving office.[1]

Conversely, it has been well reported that Congressman Honda has taken full advantage of the perks and privileges of the office.

Metro Silicon Valley (November 6, 2013)[2]:

“Honda has government pensions that will reach six figures by the time he retires…”

“Since arriving to Washington in 2001, Honda has allowed PACs, political nonprofits and ethnocentric foundations to treat him to 52 trips at a cost of $122,366.”

“But the truth is that Honda’s frequent trips allow him to keep up appearances at Democratic summits and excursions to Asia dotted along the way. South Korea, in particular, has been one of Honda’s favorite stops—he’s been to Seoul six times at a total cost of $42,494.”

“He makes the rounds at galas and party functions. He goes overseas on behalf of special interests, and in return he makes connections and gets to see a little bit of the world.”

[1] http://www.rokhanna.com/sixsteps

[2] http://www.sanjoseinside.com/news/entries/11_6_13_mike_honda_ro_khanna_congress/



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February 14, 2014

Honda Campaign Inflates Record

Congressman Honda’s campaign has inflated his record in key areas recently. Here are the facts behind some of those claims:

  • In a recent video, Dhaval Brahmbhatt of the SF Bay Area Nanotechnology Council says that “he [Honda] initiated the first bill” on nanotechnology.
  • The campaign video also quotes the Mercury News headline on Congressman Honda’s hand in the BART project: “Rep. Honda secures federal money for the BART Silicon Valley Extension.”
    • Rep. Honda secured a $2 million earmark for the BART extension from the House Appropriations Committee. He initially asked for $20 million, and the $2 million he actually received was a very small percentage of the $900 million that the Federal Transit Administration ultimately granted the project in 2012.
    • The federal funding only came after voters in Santa Clara County approved a half-cent sales tax. 

Congressman Mike Honda has authored only one bill in his entire Congressional tenure that became law: "to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1750 Lundy Avenue in San Jose, California”.

Not a single bill that Congressman Honda has authored (other than the aforementioned post office naming) has been voted on in the House. 


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January 30, 2014

CLAIM: "Mike has not changed"



The Mike Honda for Congress campaign dug up an old video of Ro commending Congressman Honda two years ago (January 30, 2014).

This is the slogan that their campaign embraced in the latest fundraising attack:[1]




That “Mike hasn't changed” is exactly the problem, and it's clear with this kind of silly attack. What the people of the 17th district don't need is more stale, tired political games. They need, and deserve, a real debate about ideas for the future. That's a debate Ro is ready to have. We hope Congressman Honda can “change” enough to allow for that.

Ro has always believed it is important to show respect for trailblazers in the Asian American Community, like Congressman Honda. But as he learned more about the Congressman's record, and spoke with residents of the 17th district, it became clear that he has been ineffective in producing results for his constituents.

Silicon Valley should be at the forefront of our public policy debates – but we have not had that type of leadership.  We need a representative who understands the global economy, how to create good paying jobs, and has ideas for preparing young people for the jobs of the future. That’s why Ro challenged Congressman Honda to monthly debates – he believes voters deserve a real conversation about where the economy is going and what we have to do to ensure that no citizens of the 17th district are left behind.  



On January 8, Ro issued a debate challenge to Rep. Mike Honda, inviting him to discuss the issues important to voters before the June 3rd primary.[2]

Ro also asked voters to submit questions, and the response he received was overwhelming. Unfortunately, Congressman Honda still hasn’t responded to Ro’s challenge. What are his ideas to create good paying job? How will he make sure Silicon Valley continues to lead in high-tech manufacturing? The defining issues of this campaign will be about the future and who can best represent the people of the 17th district. Congressman Honda has made this campaign one of distractions, not issues.

On January 23, Ro asked Congressman Honda to sign the same "People’s Pledge" that Senator Elizabeth Warren championed. The pledge would bar independent expenditures and super PACs from pouring money into the 17th District.[3] That same night, Rep. Honda’s campaign wrote back, and refused to take the pledge – even though Congressman Honda tweeted just one day before about our need to overturn Citizens United. This is the type of “smoke and mirrors” campaign tactic that has led to the massive trust deficit between the people and Congress.

[1] https://act.myngp.com/Forms/6168524114614026240?midqs=2039849156222124032

[2] http://www.rokhanna.com/ro_s_debate_challenge_to_congressman_honda

[3] http://www.rokhanna.com/pledge


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January 09, 2014

CLAIM: Ro Khanna is ‘corporate backed’



Congressman Honda’s allies send out a baseless attack as an attempt to raise money (December 3, 2013).


Now Mike Honda is facing a corporate-backed challenger whose big money donors are intent on buying Mike’s congressional seat.

-       Howard Dean, DFA Chairman


“His opponent is a Silicon Valley groupie looking to buy support from wealthy CEOs by promising them their every wish in Washington. Congress needs more and better Democrats, like Mike Honda, not poor and worse Democrats who will do the bidding of millionaires over the needs of the rest of us.”

-       Charles Chamberlain, DFA’s executive director


THE FACTS: Ro has pledged never to accept money from special interest PACs, including those representing the big corporations that have rigged the game in their favor. And because Ro does not want to be beholden to anyone other than his constituents, he has taken a pledge to never accept special interest-funded trips.

In contrast, Rep. Mike Honda has taken almost $3 million from PACs over his career,[1] and $226,247[2] this election cycle alone. His donors have included big pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co, and Pfizer,[3] and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin.[4]

In addition to campaign donations and contributions, Rep. Honda has traveled extensively on the dime of various special interest groups. Over his career, these travel expenses total $122,366 for 52 individual trips. He’s traveled domestically and internationally to places including Turkey and South Korea.[5]

[1] http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/pacs.php?cid=N00012611&cycle=Career

[2] http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/pacs.php?cycle=2014&cid=N00012611&type=I

[3] http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/pacs.php?cycle=2014&cid=N00012611&sector=H&seclong=Health&cat=H04&

[4] http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/pacs.php?cycle=2014&cid=N00012611&sector=D&seclong=Defense&cat=D01&induslong=Defense+Aerospace&newMem=N

[5] http://www.legistorm.com/trip/list/by/approver/id/284/name/Rep_Mike_Honda/submenu/personal.html


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About Truth Squad

The Truth Squad is a group of Ro's volunteers in California's 17th District who are committed to a campaign based on facts and ideas rather than insults and distortions.

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