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Ethics watchdog Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) has filed a complaint calling for the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Rep. Kai Kahele for conflict of interest concerns and abuse of proxy voting. 

The conservative-leaning group noted recent reporting that Kahele has worked as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines since before he joined Congress and in 2021 co-sponsored four bills that Hawaiian Airlines had lobbied Congress for, including one that provides tax credits to the airline industry. 

Kahele’s pilot job paid him $120,000 in 2020, before he took office, but has paid him far less in subsequent years. 

FACT also pointed out that Kahele has voted by proxy 120 times since May 2020 as he claims he has been unable to attend due to the risk posed by Covid-19. ‘It has become increasingly clear that this may not be the reason Rep. Kahele did not vote in person for approximately three months as he was attending other public and political events during this same period,’ FACT wrote.

House Ethics rules require members to avoid taking official action that displays either an apparent or actual conflict of interest. Kahele serves on the aviation subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Kahele’s wife also works for Hawaiian Airlines. 

A recent Honolulu Civil Beat report found that Kahele rarely spends any time in Washington, D.C. – he has cast five votes in person for 2022, all over the course of three days in January. He’s cast 120 votes by proxy so far this year. 

Ethics watchdog Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) has filed a complaint calling for the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Rep. Kai Kahele for conflict of interest concerns and abuse of proxy voting

Ethics watchdog Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) has filed a complaint calling for the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Rep. Kai Kahele for conflict of interest concerns and abuse of proxy voting

Ethics watchdog Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) has filed a complaint calling for the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Rep. Kai Kahele for conflict of interest concerns and abuse of proxy voting

Kahele has continued to work as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines while serving in Congress

Kahele has continued to work as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines while serving in Congress

Kahele has continued to work as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines while serving in Congress 

Kahele claimed he could not travel to DC for votes while at the same time making public appearances in Hawaii

Kahele claimed he could not travel to DC for votes while at the same time making public appearances in Hawaii

Kahele claimed he could not travel to DC for votes while at the same time making public appearances in Hawaii 

Kahele’s office, which did not respond to requests for an explanation from multiple news outlets including DailyMail.com, told CNN: ‘To limit his exposure to COVID-19 and the potential to spread the virus, our office has tried to reduce Rep. Kahele’s cross-country travel while ensuring he fulfills all of his responsibilities in Congress.’ 

A spokesperson for Kahele explained that the congressman lives in a multigenerational home and he is worried about new coronavirus variants. 

The spokesperson claimed that Kahele remains fully engaged virtually. 

‘The Congressman has not missed a single vote this year. He continues to participate in HASC and T&I Committee hearings and maximizes his time back home by engaging with his constituents and addressing their concerns at the federal level.’ 

And while House Ethics Rules only allow $29,595 in annual outside income, Kahele’s office revealed the congressman made $29,151.79 from Hawaiian Airlines in 2021. So far this year, Kahele has had a total of 14.2 flying hours and made less than $2,861.90. 

Kahele, who ran to replace Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, promised to ‘show up’ – in contrast to the congresswoman who was preoccupied with a run for the presidency. Now, he’s mulling a run for governor.

Only three members of Congress have voted by proxy more than Kahele – Democratic Reps. Albio Sires of New Jersey, Lucille Roybal-Allard of California and Al Lawson of Florida.

Fellow Hawaiian Democrat Rep. Ed Case has yet to ask a colleague to vote for him this year and has done so only 30 times since the start of the pandemic.

Kahele’s in-person participation seems to have fallen off dramatically at the start of the new year – he only voted by proxy 49 times in 2021, most of those in March of last year when Hawaii suffered historic flooding. 

Kahele’s office refused to provide a copy of his schedule over the past four months. 

In a letter to the House Clerk’s office dated April 4, Kahele said he is voting by proxy ‘due to the ongoing public health emergency.’ But the congressman has been posting maskless photos of himself all over the Aloha State. 

Members are not required to provide a reason for proxy voting other than to attest that it is ‘due to the public health emergency.’ 

When he’s not in Washington, Kahele surely leads a busy schedule – in addition to flying for Hawaiian, he serves in Hawaii’s Air National Guard. 

The FACT complaint provides a list of times when Kahele used Covid-19 to vote by proxy while at the exact same time making public appearances as he eyes up a run for governor, according to his Instagram.  

Source: dailymail

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