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. For a synopsis of Honda’s educational and professional activities prior to the start of his political career, click here.
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.
In 2005 Honda was a member of the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.
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.” (Emphasis in original)
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.
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 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 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 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  campaign.”
- 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.”
To examine Honda’s voting record as a Member of Congress, click here.
For additional information on Mike Honda, click here.
Further Reading: “Mike Honda” (Ballotpedia.org, Keywiki.org ); “Traitor Senators Took Money from Iran Lobby, Back Iran Nukes” (by Daniel Greenfield, 8-25-2015); “We All Support the Nuclear Deal with Iran” (8-3-2015); “Congressman Under Fire: The Case Against Rep. Mike Honda” (San Jose Inside, 9-9-2015).
- 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.”