House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is replacing embattled Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who’s held a leadership position on the House Appropriations Committee.
Yet, the man who is slated to replace him, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), is the subject of a substantial investigation into ethical wrongdoing of his own, which allegedly involves a “pay-to-play” scheme discovered out of a probe into his official congressional and re-election committee’s improper mixing of government and campaigning business.
The Office of Congressional Ethics was created by then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2008 in what she called an attempt to “drain the swamp” of rampant corruption by officials in Washington, D.C. Yet Pelosi has not done anything to prevent her fellow Democrat Honda from rising to this powerful committee position.
Pelosi’s creation of this committee had a large founding in her personal targeting of former Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), who after eight long years of trial was exonerated last October after a Texas court found that the evidence in the case was “legally insufficient to sustain DeLay’s convictions.”
Will Pelosi live up to her founding office’s ethical standards and prevent Honda from representing a committee which stands to eliminate ethics violations in the nation’s capital?
Honda’s troubles were amplified this past week when a binder dubbed “1,000 cranes” emerged listing 1,000 of the embattled congressman’s top donors who were pawns in an alleged showing of pay to play politics in which Honda sought to “fast track” the acquisition of $1 million — $1,000 from 1,000 people — in exchange for having his team complete transactional work and provide prioritized treatment for constituents who were interested in acquiring visas or other services in a more expeditious manner.
The binder reportedly emerged last week during the House ethics announcement that they would extend their probe into Honda’s alleged misconduct, which involved the mixing of government work and campaigning. The San Francisco Chronicle’s senior political writer Carla Marinucci points out that Honda’s binder was named “1,000 cranes” after an ancient Japanese tale that sees cranes as a symbol of luck and good fortune. Honda’s top donors were reportedly identified either as “cranes” or “friends of MH.”
The investigation into the ethics matter was prompted after allegations surfaced suggesting Honda’s Chief of Staff, Jennifer Van der Heide, had blurred the lines between her official government duties and Honda’s reelection campaign by coordinating with Honda’s campaign staff for a State Department event which targeted the congressman’s fellow South Asian constituents.
The perceived ethics violation surfaced during his 2014 reelection campaign against fellow Democratic rival, and former Obama trade official, Ro Khanna. However, it did little to dissuade voters from reelecting Honda for an eighth term, which he won by a slight 5,000 vote margin.
Khanna, who is a Yale law graduate, author, and university lecturer, announced in May that he will again seek the 17th Congressional district seat which Honda now occupies.