Rep. Mike Honda files lawsuit accusing Ro Khanna’s campaign of computer fraud, espionage

SAN JOSE —  A federal lawsuit filed Sept. 22 in San Jose alleges that congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign accessed confidential files for information on supporters of his opponent, Rep. Mike Honda.

The lawsuit comes about six weeks before the Nov. 8 election as Khanna and Honda are contending for the 17th Congressional District seat representing portions of southern Alameda and northern Santa Clara counties.

Honda, who has served in Congress since 2001, also faced Khanna in the 2014 general election and won.

Mike Honda for Congress alleges that Ro Khanna, campaign manager Brian Parvizshahi and Ro Khanna for Congress Inc. violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and Economic Espionage Act.

Parvizshahi was an intern with the Arum Group, a financial consultant to Honda’s campaign, between May and June of 2012 when he was allowed access to intern and fundraising folders on cloud storage service Dropbox, according to the suit.

Parvizshahi allegedly left the summer internship early because he was performing “menial tasks” and continued to access the folders on at least seven different occasions between February and September of 2013, the suit said.

The Dropbox folders showed Parvizshahi allegedly edited, added to or modified the files, according to the suit.

In 2014, Parvizshahi began to work with Khanna’s congressional campaign as data director and became campaign director the following year, the suit said.

Parvizshahi allegedly continued to make a minimum of 44 changes to the files from 2014 to mid-June 2015, according to the suit.

In October 2015, 16 Honda supporters notified his campaign of e-mails they received from Khanna to discuss the congressional race, with the messages mentioning “Honda’s ethics scandal” and news articles that criticized the congressman, the suit said.

Honda’s campaign didn’t realize the Dropbox files were edited until May when his fundraising consultant was notified via Dropbox of changes to the folders, according to the suit.

The campaign’s finance director reached out to the Arum Group that had consulted for Honda until 2014, and learned Parvizshahi wasn’t taken off of the Dropbox access list, the suit said.

The information was passed along to Honda’s campaign manager Michael Beckendorf, who found many files Parvizshahi allegedly viewed and edited after leaving Arum and while working for Khanna, according to the suit.

Parvizshahi is accused of making edits and additions to a file on almost 9,800 donors between 2008 and 2014 that contained their personal information including their name, employer and phone number, the suit said.

The file also had details on more than $3.5 million in contributions, according to the suit.

The suit seeks injunctive relief and damages in an amount to be determined at a trial.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for Oct. 19 in San Jose before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins.

Requests for comment from Khanna’s campaign weren’t immediately returned Sept. 23, but Parvizshahi has reportedly since resigned.

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