Mike Honda

© Image Copyright : Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: United States Government

Overview

  • Was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000
  • Joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus
  • Was a member of the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus
  • Wanted normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba
  • Supported illegal immigration and the DREAM Act
  • Supported the Iran nuclear deal and the Communist Party USA
  • Lost reelection bid in 2016

A third-generation Japanese American, Mike Honda was born on June 27, 1941, in Walnut Grove, California. He spent his early childhood with his family in a Colorado internment camp during World War II, as a result of an Executive Order by which President Franklin Roosevelt warehoused Americans of Japanese ancestry in such facilities between 1942-45.

Honda served in the U.S. Peace Corps from 1965-67; graduated from San Jose State University (SJSU) in 1968 with a B.A. in biology and a B.S. in Spanish; served on the San Jose Planning Commission from 1971-81; earned an M.A. in education from SJSU in 1974; worked as an associate researcher at Stanford University’s Urban-Rural School Development Program from 1974-75; was thereafter the vice principal of a middle school and the principal of two public elementary schools; served on the San Jose Unified School Board from 1981-90; and sat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors from 1990-96.

After serving three years in the California State Assembly, Honda in 2000 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from California’s 15th Congressional District. He was also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In 2013 Honda’s district was renumbered as the 17th. Honda was defeated in the 2016 Democratic primary by challenger Ro Khanna, and he vacated his House seat in January 2017.

Honda objected strongly to the New York Police Department’s post-9/11 surveillance of local Muslim neighborhoods and mosques, a practice aimed at uncovering potential extremism and/or terrorist threats. By Honda’s telling, such surveillance was akin to the World War II-era policy that had sent him and his family to an internment camp.

On June 26, 2002, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that because America’s Pledge of Allegiance contained the words “under God,” it violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition against government making any law respecting an “Establishment of Religion.” Within hours of this decision, Members of the U.S. Senate had gathered to recite the Pledge for TV cameras on the Capitol steps, and had voted 99-0 to denounce the ruling. The following day, the House of Representatives voted 416-3 to likewise denounce the court ruling. The three who sided with the court were Democrats Mike Honda, Robert Scott, and Pete Stark.

In 2005 Honda was a member of the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.

On December 6, 2006—three days before the 25th anniversary of the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner by former Black Panther Party member Mumia Abu-Jamal—Honda was one of 31 U.S. House Members (all Democrats) who voted against a resolution “condemning the decision of St. Denis, France, to name a street in honor of … Abu-Jamal.” To view a list of all 31 House members who voted this way, click here.

In 2007, Honda was one of 90 Members of Congress who signed an open letter delivered to President Bush, stating: “We will only support appropriating funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office.” The letter was initiated by the Peace Pledge Coalition, an alliance led by such notables as Medea Benjamin, Bill Fletcher, Kevin Zeese, and representatives of the Progressive Democrats of America, Democrats.com, AfterDowningStreet.org, Velvet Revolution, and the Backbone Campaign.

One of Honda’s political passions was the “normalization” of U.S. relations with Cuba. In early April 2009, for instance, he joined several fellow Members of Congress in a delegation to Havana, where they had a friendly meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro. Also present were Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, Marcia Fudge, Barbara Lee, Laura Richardson, Bobby Rush, and Melvin Watt. In 2013, Honda was one of 59 House Members who signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to “support travel to Cuba by granting general licenses for ALL current categories of travel.”

In July 2009, State Rep. Honda signed a letter along with Dennis KucinichJim Moran, and a few other Democratic legislators, to Attorney General Eric Holder invoking a list of grievances from CAIRMASMPAC, and other radical Islamist groups and asking that Holder meet with representatives from those groups to hear their concerns regarding the use of convicted felons as informants in mosques, alleged religious profiling of Somali Muslims in Minnesota and elsewhere, and allegations that the FBI is working with foreign governments to question American citizens who are terror suspects. In the letter, the representatives said: “These concerns raise legitimate questions about due process, justice, and equal treatment under the law. We hope you will meet with American Muslim leaders to ensure that core American values are respected for all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or faith.”

When the House of Representatives voted by a 345-75 margin to defund the notoriously corrupt community organization ACORN in September 2009, Honda was one of the 75—all Democrats—who voted to continue funding the group.

On December 22, 2009, Honda was one of 33 U.S. Representatives who signed a letter to Hillary Clinton, calling on the Secretary of State to pressure the Israeli government to end its ban on Palestinian student travel from Gaza to the West Bank. “We applaud your efforts to support educational opportunities for Palestinian youth, including your initiative to increase U.S. funding for Palestinian universities and educational programs in Gaza and the West Bank,” added the letter.

On January 27, 2010, Honda was one of 54 Members of Congress who signed a letter asking President Barack Obama to use diplomatic pressure to end Israel’s blockade of Gaza—a blockade which had been imposed in order to prevent the importation of weaponry from Iran and Syria.

In February 2010, Honda dispatched staffer Michael Shank on a three-day “fact-finding trip” to Venezuela and other Latin American countries to “fostering dialogue and improving U.S. policy and bilateral relations.” Venezuela for 3 days in February 2010. The trip’s $2,219.70 price tag was covered by the Center for Democracy in the Americas, which has ties to the Institute for Policy Studies.

In the spring of 2010, Rep. Honda traveled to Honduras and El Salvador for 3 days to “assess the situation … and current U.S. policy implications” in those countries. The trip was funded by a $4,107.39 grant from the Center for Democracy in the Americas, which has ties to the Institute for Policy Studies.

On October 13, 2010, Honda participated in a large-scale vigil and rally in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, where numerous House and Senate members were launching a new push for comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path-to-citizenship for millions of illegal aliens. Also present were such notables as Xavier Becerra, Yvette Clarke, Raúl Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, Robert Menendez, Jared Polis, Michael Quigley, Jan Schakowsky, Nydia Velazquez, and Lynn Woolsey.

In November 2010, Honda and 15 other congressional Democrats met—either personally or through their respective staffers—with three supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack (FRSO/FB). Those FRSO/FB supporters, representing the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, expressed their condemnation of “the FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas of people doing international solidarity work and anti-war organizing.” It was reported that Honda and his 15 colleagues in Congress expressed “genuine concern” about the situation.

In January 2012, Honda and Ami Carpenter, an assistant professor at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, co-authored a Huffington Post article titled “What America Can Learn From El Salvador in Ending Gang Violence about El Salvador.” Advocating government negotiations with hardened criminals and murderous gangs, they wrote:

Earlier this year, in an effort to curb the violence, the government in El Salvador negotiated a groundbreaking deal with the Salvadoran MS-13 and a rival gang, Calle-18. In a bold move, mediators in El Salvador essentially extended the framework of humanitarian engagement to gang warfare, brokering a peace treaty between the two gangs and the Salvadoran government. After the deal, homicides decreased by 32 percent and kidnappings by 50 percent, as reported by the New York Times. In May, the gangs extended their truce to school zones and agreed to end forced recruitment of child soldiers…

The U.S. — and gang-plagued Mexico — should heed the progress made in El Salvador and recognize that the standard methods to end violence aren’t working. Creative, innovative solutions are needed. This Salvadoran example is one that should be tried, showing that everyone from the community to local elected officials to law enforcement needs to be brought in to truly end violence on a large scale.

Also in 2012, Honda spoke at a National Council of Asian Pacific Americans immigration roundtable promoting the DREAM Act and a pathway-to-citizenship for illegal aliens residing in the United States.

In November 2012, Honda was a member of the host committee for “Leading with Love,” an event celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Marxist-led National Domestic Workers Alliance.

In early 2013, Honda and a number of fellow elected officials and activists—most of whom were aligned with the Democratic Socialists of America—drafted a proposal urging President Obama to award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to the late Fred Ross Sr., a radical who had been trained by Saul Alinsky and had served as a mentor to both Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

In 2014, Honda’s congressional campaign was supported by Peace Action. The 2014 campaign was also endorsed by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, an organization that promotes leftist agendas in areas like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Wall Street regulation, student loans, gun control, health care, taxes, and net neutrality.

In December 2014 Honda co-authored an article stating that frequent “power outages, deluging rains, flash floods, mudslides and record droughts” were “bellwethers of an ecosystem out of whack” and the devastating impact of “climate change.”

In the summer of 2015, Honda supported the nuclear deal that the Obama administration negotiated with Iran—an agreement allowing the Islamist regime in Tehran to enrich uranium, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and have a near-zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb approximately a decade down the road. Honda had previously been a leading congressional recipient of financial support from the Iran Lobby—i.e., the Iranian American Political Action Committee, which likewise backed the agreement. By Honda’s telling, the accord represented an opportunity to “chang[e] the broken paradigm that for decades has failed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and bring a lasting peaceful solution.”

In September 2015 the House Ethics Committee, after conducting an extensive investigation, concluded that there was reason to believe that “Representative Honda and members of his congressional staff [had improperly] used official [publicly funded] resources, including staff time, to benefit his [2014] campaign.”[1]

Over the years, Honda has been supported by, and in turn has given his support to, a number of Communist Party USA (CPUSA) figures:

  • In a September 26, 2001 report to the National Committee of the CPUSA, Juan Lopez, the Northern Region chairman of the Party’s California District, celebrated Honda’s “spectacular victory in the 15th congressional district,” lauding him as someone who “embodies California’s rich multi-cultural, working class experience.”
  • In a 2002 report to the CPUSA National Board, the Party’s Political Action Commission chairwoman, Joelle Fishman, urged fellow Communists to support Mike Honda and Barbara Lee in their respective congressional races in California.
  • In 2006 Honda endorsed San Jose City Council member Cindy Chavez, a 1999 honoree of the CPUSA, in her campaign for mayor.
  • In 2010, socialist activist Amy Dean told the publication In These Times that Honda was “one of my favorite elected leaders” because he “always sticks to his progressive values.” Honda, for his part, praised Dean as “a tireless and passionate advocate for social justice.”

Over the years, Honda has received numerous donations from high-ranking officials and/or board members of Islamist organizations. Specifically, from 2006-2016 he received a total of $4,400 in contributions from individuals affiliated with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Honda’s political campaigns have also been supported by the Council for a Livable World the JStreet PAC.

To examine Honda’s voting record as a Member of Congress, click here.

Further Reading: “Mike Honda” (Ballotpedia.org, Keywiki.org ).

Footnotes

  1. San Jose Inside reports that the Committee found:
    • side-by-side details—which Honda’s congressional staff had prepared for the campaign’s use—of how Honda’s various issue positions compared to those of his Democratic primary opponent;
    • a Google Drive back channel that allowed Honda’s campaign and House staffers to move information back and forth;
    • a Dropbox account that had been set up as an official account, then re-passworded and turned over to the campaign;
    • evidence of staff meetings that had been used to review campaign activities;
    • evidence of office retreats at which Honda’s campaign had been discussed;
    • an expectation that staffers would read books and volunteer for the campaign;
    • a chief of staff who served double duty as Honda’s campaign manager;
    • a district office manager, Meri Maben, who was clearly political; and
    • spreadsheets tracking the “donation history” of Indo- and Chinese-American attendees at campaign events.

    The Bay Area News Group’s Josh Richman described these as “arguably the most significant allegations any Bay Area House member has faced in decades.”


Additional Resources

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