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Hawaii Dem Rep Accused of Moonlighting as Pilot Expected to Retire

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Hawaii Democrat Rep. Kai Kahele, who also works at Hawaiian Airlines and was accused of moonlighting as a pilot while voting by proxy in Washington, DC, will reportedly retire from Congress at the end of his term.

Kahele will reportedly run for governor of Hawaii instead of running for another term in Congress. This would make him the thirty-second Democrat to not run for reelection and ultimately retire from the House to run for another office.

In recent weeks, Kahele came under scrutiny for still working for Hawaiian Airlines – an international airline that lobbies Congress for legislation he has jurisdiction over. Kahele has even co-sponsored four bills that would have directly affected the aviation industry.

At the same time, he only voted in-person five times this year, which all happened during a three-day period in January. The Honolulu Civil Beat reported that the other 120 votes he had — which allegedly happened while he was still working as a pilot — were done by proxy, including “his” vote on April 2 to decriminalize marijuana, which he later touted in a press release.

He also reportedly skipped President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in February and was the only member of the delegation that was absent when Hawaii city officials were at the capitol to talk about Honolulu’s $10 billion rail project with the Federal Transit Administration.

When asked, Kahele refused to answer if he voted by proxy when moonlighting for the airline, which paid him roughly $120,000 in 2020 to be a pilot. But he did eventually tell Punchbowl News that the Ethics office  “cleared” his arrangement to “moonlight” for the airline and be a member of Congress. But, Punchbowl News’s Jake Sherman noted, “They have not produced a shred of evidence that is the case.”

In August 2021, the Democrat’s financial disclosure report also showed that the congressman and his wife have 401(k)s associated with Hawaiian Airlines, valued between $250,001 and $500,000, and Kahele’s wife’s 401(k) between $100,000 and $250,000.

Interestingly enough, many of Kahele’s top donors come from the airline industry. Breitbart News wrote that he received in June 2021 a $2,500 donation from the Hawaiian Airlines Inc. PAC, the same company for which he allegedly moonlights as a pilot while serving in Congress. In total, Kahele has received $5,500 from the Hawaiian Airlines PAC.

Last week, he also received an ethics complaint from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog organization, which demanded an investigation from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) into Kahele for “presenting [a] conflict of interest concerns and abuse of proxy voting.”

The complaint outlined that Kahele was able to proxy vote, but only in the case of a “public health emergency” and nothing else, and noted that “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’s complaint also noted that he presented a conflict of interest by allegedly moonlighting as a pilot for an airline that he and his wife earn an income from and are still affiliated with. Plus, he also serves on a committee in Congress and has co-sponsored bills that have directly affected his outside employer.

Republican groups rejoiced over the Hawaii Democrat not running for reelection.

National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Deputy Communications Director Mike Berg said, “Kai Kahele knows House Democrats’ majority is doomed, so he made the smart decision to forgo reelection.  Aloha, Kai!”

“Democrats are jetting out of Congress faster than you can say, ‘Aloha,’” said Congressional Leadership Fund Press Secretary Cally Perkins. “The midterms are coming up quick, and Democrats should remember there’s still plenty of time to bail now instead of going down in defeat.”

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss.


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