Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Honda has quietly set up a fund dedicated to collecting money to pay bills related to an ethics probe.
The San Jose Democrat set up the fund after taking more than $200,000 out of his campaign war chest last year to pay for legal fees, The San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday.
"It is something we did so we can cover the cost of legal help," Honda said in a short interview last week.
Honda said one reason for setting up the fund is to let potential donors to his campaign know their money is going toward re-election to his ninth term — not legal bills.
The Office of Congressional Ethics said in a report released last year that Honda's office staffers doubling as campaign volunteers prepared campaign materials, used information from the congressional office for campaign purposes and regularly discussed campaign matters at official staff retreats.
He is under investigation to determine whether his office violated House rules that prohibit politicians from using taxpayer funds that pay for office staff for campaign purposes.
Honda is locked in a close race against repeat Democratic challenger Ro Khanna for the 17th Congressional District, which includes Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Cupertino and North San Jose, stretching up through Milpitas and into Fremont and Newark in Alameda County.
Khanna lost by 3.6 percentage points in 2014.