Following criticism by Congressional candidate Ro Khanna on fellow Democrat and incumbent Rep. Mike Honda (CA-17), Honda’s congressional chief of staff has issued an apology for blurring the lines between her official duties and her work on Honda’s reelection campaign by sending an email to Honda’s political director during office hours.
However, the Khanna campaign says that a “semi-apology” is not enough.
Honda’s Chief of Staff, ennifer Van der Heide issued the following statement on Wednesday, admitting that she had sent an email to Honda’s then-political director Lamar Heystek from her personal Gmail account in February of 2013, according to the San Jose Mercury News:
The congressman expects that official staff who want to volunteer on his campaign do so on their own time, and without utilizing the resources of the office. In this instance, while I was on my own time and not using official resources, I fell short of the congressman’s expectations and the example I try to set for the office. I have apologized to the congressman for my oversight.
Khanna’s spokesman Tyler Law issued a response to Van der Heide’s apology, drawing attention to the allegations that Honda’s staff regularly mixed political work with official business by calling for routine “coffee breaks” during office hours in which Honda’s campaign would be discussed:
It became apparent this week that the initial emails were just the tip of the iceberg. Now we’ve learned that Rep. Honda’s congressional staff took regular ‘coffee breaks’ to do political work and that constituent casework took a backseat to helping the congressman with personal errands. The voters and taxpayers of our district deserve accountability from their congressman. And if he won’t provide it, the House Ethics Committee should.
While the filing of ethics complaints is not uncommon during political campaigns, this one in particular could negatively impact Honda’s reelection bid due to the emergence of email evidence.
Honda and Khanna are scheduled to have their first and only debate ahead of the general election (Nov. 4) on Monday, October 6 in San Francisco’s Bay Area.