Ro Khanna

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Over a year ago, Ro Khanna referenced the Federalist Papers and derided the powerful hand of special interests hampering government today. He later said, “Candidates should publicly refuse to fill out questionnaires from interest groups that pre-commit them to positions.”

However, when the influential San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber PAC sent a candidates questionnaire to Khanna last August, did the 17th congressional district candidate challenging fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Honda oblige them or not?

The Silicon Valley Chamber PAC questionnaire, obtained by the East Bay Citizen, contains 22 questions. Khanna’s response, also obtained by the Citizen, shows that while he did not answer the chamber’s questions directly, he instead provided a separate and lengthy 14-page letter essentially serving as an overview of all the group’s queries.

Tyler Law, Khanna’s communication director, said the campaign did not take any positions in the letter to the chamber. “We have not changed our policy one bit,” he said. The contents of the letter, said Law, came mostly from Khanna’s book on manufacturing published last year. “You won’t be surprised by anything in the letter,” added Law.

Khanna later received the chamber’s endorsement, but the PAC is not able to make donations on the Federal level. Throughout the campaign, Khanna has pledged to not accept donations from PACs,

Vivek Kembaiyan, Honda’s communication director, said Tuesday the campaign did not participate in the chamber’s endorsement process, but he criticized Khanna for doing so.

“Before squandering more than $3 million just to lose by 20 points, Ro Khanna made all kinds of promises, including not to take support from PACs and to not fill out any questionnaires from interest groups,” said Kembaiyan. “He went back on both of those promises and is embracing support of the conservative Chamber PAC, which opposed a minimum-wage increase that Congressman Honda helped fight for. Ro has shown his true colors: he will say or do anything if he thinks it will help him get elected.”

As the fall race heats up, the next pivotal moment in the campaign may come Oct. 6, during an locally televised debate between the candidates in San Jose.