The House Ethics Committee said Monday that it is extending its review of allegations against Rep. Mike Honda first made during the heat of his 2014 reelection campaign.
A September 2014 story by San Jose Inside alleged that internal emails showed Honda's congressional staffers mixed official business with his campaign and may have rewarded campaign donors with invites to government events. In September, the mayors of Cupertino and Milpitas formally filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, according to San Jose Inside, and Honda's office told the publication it was cooperating with OCE.
When matters are sent to the House Ethics Committee, that generally means the OCE's board has found a substantial reason to believe a violation could have occurred. At this time, details about the investigation have not been formally released by OCE or the House Ethics Committee, and the committee statement by the panel's top Republican and top Democrat was short but noted that a referral, an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of the member's name don't indicate an ethics violation nor do these measures "reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee."
"The notice by the House Ethics Committee is simply part of the process that began with a politically motivated complaint issued by Mike Honda's opponent and his supporters during the last campaign," Adam Alberti, Honda's campaign spokesman, said in a statement.
The statement goes on to describe a new policy, effective immediately: Honda will prohibit all congressional staff from volunteering on his campaign.
"I believe this action provides clarity for the public and a bright line for my staff that far exceeds anything required by the House of Representatives," Honda said in the statement.
His office will continue to cooperate with the review, the statement notes, and the House Ethics Committee has until Sept. 3 to announce its next course of action.