Ro Khanna sent a $1,000 donation to the Knights
of Columbus last Friday.
It took almost four years, but 17th Congressional District candidate Ro Khanna is finally paying alms to Baby Jesus.
After a report in the East Bay Citizen showed Khanna had canceled a $1,000 check written in 2012 for a Livermore charity organizing a large-scale re-enactment of Jesus’ birth, his campaign replaced the check Friday with a donation to another charity since the non-profit, Living Bethlehem, no longer exists.
Khanna said his campaign contributed $1,000 to the Knights of Columbus’ Coats for Kids charity that distributes new coats to children in Oakland and Richmond. The Knights of Columbus was a sponsor of the Christmas season event that included over 125 actors and a full-size manger.
The controversy began last month when former Silicon Valley executive Chuck Bellavia read a letter in the local newspaper written by Republican Ron Cohen, one of Khanna’s opponents in tomorrow’s June primary. Bellavia recalled meeting Khanna for coffee in 2012 and enlisting him to become a sponsor of the Living Bethlehem event.
But, later, after Khanna had written the $1,000 using funds for an exploratory committee he formed for a possible run at Pete Stark’s congressional seat in the 15th District, he canceled the check out of concern for tying his possible campaign to a religious event.
Bellavia was conciliatory to Khanna in an email following news of the donation. “Thank you for your solution to a past error,” Bellavia wrote to Khanna. “Your sincere apologize is appreciated.”
Khanna offered appreciation for the efforts of Bellavia and his Republican primary opponent Ron Cohen, who first broached the idea of replacing the check with another to charity. “I was pleased to be able to donate to a charity he recommended that will help kids. With all the wasteful spending on campaigns, at least some good will come out of this race,” said Khanna.
“I look forward to working with Mr. Bellavia and Mr. Cohen in the future,” he added. “No politician is perfect. Certainly I am not. But I hope we can find folks of goodwill who will work to put our country and community's interest first. I will continually strive to be a better public servant, worthy of our founding ideals."
Last week, Cohen called for Khanna to withdraw from the race following news of the incident with the non-profit. Cohen labeled the act a felony for “bouncing” a check. Khanna, however, canceled the check.
Rep. Mike Honda's campaign, however, is not impressed by Khanna's altruism. Vedant Patel, communications director for Honda, said, "Donating to a charity doesn't make up for the right wing millionaires and billionaires who continue to fill Ro's campaign coffers."