SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – While his challenger has been raking in endorsements and cash, South Bay Congressman Mike Honda has been racking up legal bills. It’s a drain on a campaign that’s struggled to raise money.

“Honda, right now, is really having to devote a lot of time and energy and money to the ongoing ethics investigation and answering questions about what he knew and when he knew it,” said Melinda Jackson, political science professor at San Jose State University.

The Office of Congressional Ethics found there is “substantial reason” to believe Honda misused official resources, including staff time to benefit his campaign.

KPIX 5’s analysis of his campaign’s financial records reveals in the 2nd quarter of this year, the congressman spent more than $65,000 on lawyers, nearly a third of all the money his campaign spent.

“The money you’re spending on your legal defense is money that you’re not able to spend on getting your message out,” Jackson told KPIX 5. “The other issue is it’s not clear how open the Honda campaign has been with donors about what they’re money is going for.”

A spokesperson for Honda’s campaign said it’s perfectly legal for the congressman to use campaign contributions for his legal defense.

In a prepared statement, the Honda campaign said, “We believe that this complaint is inherently political, raised by Rep. Honda’s political opponent in a cheap effort to get votes.”

Challenger Ro Khanna is winning the battle for money. According to federal reports, Khanna has more than $1 million on hand, compared to $360,000 for Honda.

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