Ro Khanna says his campaign refunded the entire
donation detailed in the Daily Kos story trolled
earlier by his campaign manager.

The founder of the progressive online community Daily Kos says Ro Khanna’s campaign manager created up to two phony screen names on the Web site to surreptitiously attack a damning story posted on Sunday.

The site is strict about users disclosing their relevant paid political associations, Markos Moulitsas wrote Tuesday. In certain cases, such as these, he added, the site publicly shamed Khanna’s campaign manager Brian Parvizshahi in a posting.

Parvizshahi created an account on Daily Kos identified as “bayareadubs,” said Moulitsas, ostensibly to criticize an article written by diarist Glen the Plumber, a well-known supporter of Khanna’s opponent, Rep. Mike Honda. Another account, under the username “demdemdem08,” is also strongly suspected by Moulitsas to have also been created by Parvizshahi

Creating the facade of an independent voice, said Moulitsas, actually undermines Parvizshahi criticisms. “This is all so freakin’ stupid. There’s no reason that Parvizshahi couldn’t have responded the way he did admitting his real identity. Honesty is not a liability, and in a political debate, it’s always the best choice. Showing passion for a candidate, so much so that you volunteer or work for him or her, is not a bad thing! It gives you more credibility than pretending you’re just some random voter.”

The original article described how Khanna’s recently-named campaign co-chair Niloufar “Lily” Sarafan had exceeded the legal maximum donation by using both her first name and nickname, Lily, to contribute a total of $5,400–twice the legal limit per election cycle–to the campaign. Glen the Plumber argued that Sarafan, a South Bay insider, had held fundraisers for the campaign in the past and should have known about the contribution limits. In addition, the timing of the additional donations appeared to correspond with the end of the reporting deadline this summer.

“Oh the horror that Lily, who is a highly respected member and fundraiser for the Democratic party, use the same address,same job title, and same last name, but a different first name,” bayareadubs responded in the comments section. A screenshot was included in the comments showing potentially the same example on Honda’s campaign finance report..

On Monday, the Honda campaign attempted to capitalize on the Daily Kos story with a press release

Khanna said Tuesday the discrepancy in Sarafan’s contribution was a clerical error. The Sarafans used a joint checking account to make the donations causing the mistake, and the entire $5,400 was refunded, said Khanna. The second $2,700 contribution was intended to be from Sarafan’s husband, he added.

In addition, the resulting snafu with Daily Kos was avoidable, said Khanna. “I have told everyone on my team that they should make comments in the own name and with full transparency. The better arguments are on our side. I am confident everyone will live up to this standard.”

Khanna’s legion of online defenders has in the past been strong and prevalent. During the 2014 race between the same two candidates, Khanna’s campaign featured a small team of highly-paid staffers who, using their own names, routinely trolled dissent toward Khanna on Twitter and aggressively shaped the conversation in favor of the candidate on the same site and other social media platforms.