On Thursday, Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign manager was forced to resign for allegedly hacking into a private computer system belonging to embattled Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), and illegally downloading lists of financial contributions and information linked to an ethics investigation.
Khanna’s campaign manager, Brian Parvizshahi, reportedly resigned “at his own request” early Thursday evening, Hari Sevugan, a campaign spokesman, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Brian will not let Mike Honda use him to distract voters from the need for real change.” Honda is reportedly suing Khanna, but Sevugan told the Chronicle that the Khanna campaign had not yet been served and therefore had not had a chance to evaluate the complaint from Honda’s campaign.
Sevugan reportedly added, “The fact that Mike Honda went to the press before serving us tells you what this is really about — politics. Down in the polls six weeks before an election, it’s clear Mike Honda will do and say anything to hold on to his seat, including suing anyone who is on track to defeat him.”
Honda is reportedly suing both Khanna and Parvizshahi, accusing them of violating the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the federal Economic Espionage Act.
Honda campaign manager Michael Beckendorf compared the alleged hack to a “modern day Watergate,” telling the East Bay Times, “This material was stolen — it’s theft.”
Honda, 75, has been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allowing his staff to blur the lines between official and campaign business. According to Politico, Honda recently downplayed the investigation, likening the alleged transgression to “a teacher parking in another teacher’s parking spot.”
During a speech he gave last month, which Politico notes was posted to YouTube by Parvizshahi, Honda also expressed confidence that despite the investigation he will still be able to win the endorsement of many Democratic Party leaders including Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) — whom he erroneously referred to as “Tim McCain.”
The ethics investigation has left its mark on Honda. He has lost the endorsement of several key Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, both of whom backed him in 2014.
During the last election, Honda beat Khanna by just four percentage points. This time, Khanna and Honda are neck-and-neck in the polls.