SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – The Mike Honda for Congress campaign filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the campaign manager for opponent Ro Khanna accessed and even edited information connected to Honda’s fundraising efforts.
The federal complaint filed on Thursday by Mike Honda for Congress accuses Khanna campaign manager Brian Parvizshahi of “illegally obtaining and using” confidential and proprietary information by accessing a Dropbox account connected to the Honda campaign.
The complaint claims the defendants illegal access and use of the proprietary files of the Honda campaign violated both the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Economic Espionage Act.
The files accessed included confidential email and donor lists. Khanna then allegedly used the information to try and lure away Honda’s supporters in the tightly contested 17th congressional district race.
“I would liken it to a modern-day Watergate,” said Honda campaign manager Michael Beckendorf. “This information was stolen. It was theft. It’s very serious and it’s a federal crime.”
According to the complaint, Parvizshahi had worked as an intern for Arum Group, a fundraising consultancy that worked for the Honda campaign in the summer of 2012. During his internship, Parvizshahi was given access via online cloud storage service Dropbox to some of the group’s confidential client information, which included fundraising information relating to Honda’s campaign.
While he resigned from the internship a month after it began, the complaint states that Parvizshahi’s access to those confidential Dropbox files was never deactivated.
The complaint goes on to present evidence that Parvizshahi both accessed and edited those files after his internship ended and after he began working for Khanna’s campaign in 2013.
Parvizshahi actions left behind “digital fingerprints” at least 44 times.
The suit also claims Parvizshahi turned the information over to Khanna, who then reached out to Honda’s donors on his personal email asking them for money and their vote.
Khanna and his campaign corporation Ro For Congress, Inc. were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The situation came to light in May when Honda supporters complained they were being harassed.
“There is evidence that Mr. Khanna was directly involved, said attorney Gautam Dutta.
Honda currently is in Washington, D.C. Khanna was not available for comment. However, Khanna’s spokesman distributed a written statement saying the complaint is all about politics.
“Down in the polls six weeks before an election, it’s clear Mike Honda will do and say anything to hold onto his seat, including suing anyone who is on track to defeat him,” the statement read.
Honda and Khanna are set to face off in November for incumbent Honda’s congressional seat. They first ran against each other for the same seat in 2014.
Honda has been facing scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee since last year over allegations that he had congressional aides perform campaign work when they were supposed to be working on government business.