CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign said Monday that Ro Khanna “should be ashamed” for failing to pay a former campaign staffer who served him during congressional campaigns in 2004 and 2014.

Bill Ferguson, a former Milpitas City Council candidate and current member of the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee told the East Bay Citizen last week that Khanna owed him $6,000 in wages from his 2004 campaign against then-Rep. Tom Lantos in San Mateo.

Khanna disagreed and said Ferguson was paid even though he “didn’t do a damn thing.” He labeled Ferguson claim and threat of alerting the media was a form of extortion.

But, in 2014, Khanna admitted to putting Ferguson on the payroll for his 2014 run against Honda, but allowed it not to satisfy a past debt, but out of charity to Ferguson. Emails provided by Ferguson, however, show Khanna acknowledged a debt for previous work on his 2004 campaign.

Honda’s campaign, hoping to open significant daylight between them and Khanna with just two weeks until the June Primary, was highly critical of the incident.

“These allegations are very troubling and highlight an alarming pattern of Ro Khanna not understanding the struggles working families are facing,” said Vedant Patel, communication director for the Honda campaign.

“This is the type of callousness we expect from Republicans, not from so-called Democratic candidates. Ro should be ashamed and should pay the former employee in question the money he is owed immediately. How can Silicon Valley’s middle class families expect Ro to keep his word to them when he can’t even keep his word to his own staff?”

On Monday morning, Khanna, appearing on the KQED radio program “Forum,” was asked by a caller to address Ferguson’s allegations. Khanna denied Ferguson’s claim and minimized its importance by saying no mainstream media organizations had picked up the story.