Thanks to Pelosi proxy rule, House Dem reportedly in Hawaii most of year, still flying as an airline pilot

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Rep. Kai Kahele (D-HI) has been absent from duties in Washington, DC for most of the year, casting only five votes in January over three days and voting the rest of the time by proxy while piloting “occasional flights” for Hawaiian Airlines, according to a report.

Kahele was elected after purportedly promising that he would be a full-time representative for constituents. However, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat, the congressman has had someone else vote for him 120 times while he has remained in Hawaii. The progressive Democrat had originally indicated that he would move his wife and three daughters to D.C. to avoid traveling long distances and being away from his family.

Since he is a member of the House of Representatives, the combat veteran has gotten away with proxy voting thanks to an edict by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who is allowing it due to the pandemic. He has defended his absence by saying that he has COVID concerns and lives in a “multi-generational home.” In-person voting is required in the Senate.

Only three other members of the House have used the proxy policy more than the freshman Democrat has. Those Democratic Reps. include Albio Sires of New Jersey, Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, and Al Lawson of Florida.

Evidently, he has not given up his position as a pilot with Hawaiian Airlines. Records show that he earned $120,000 in 2020 which is the year he was elected to Congress. He also makes $174,000 annually as a member of Congress.

Despite his absence in D.C., or maybe as part of it, Kahele is said to be considering a run for governor of Hawaii in 2022, according to the Civil Beat. He has not made a formal announcement of intending to do so.

His office issued a statement to Fox News on Tuesday decrying “intentionally misleading and inaccurate reports about Congressman Kahele’s continued commitment to his work in Washington, DC.”

The congressman’s office declared that Kahele is “deeply concerned” for the health of his family and attempted to “limit his exposure” to the virus by limiting “cross-country travel.”

“The Congressman is concerned for the health and safety of the communities with whom he interacts,” Kahele’s office claimed in the statement. “He is also deeply concerned about the health and safety of members of his own family because he lives in a multi-generational home. Unfortunately, variants of COVID-19 continue to spread. Just last week members of leadership in the U.S. House and White House contracted the virus.”

“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,” the statement added.

Despite the protestations over COVID, the congressman has been seen maskless with his colleagues and constituents.

His office asserts that Kahele has “not missed a single vote this year” by utilizing proxy voting. Spokesperson Michael Ahn also contends that he flies occasionally only to maintain his pilot certification and his flights are within the limits of House ethics rules, according to Politico. Those rules limit annual outside income to $29,895 in 2022.

“The Congressman’s outside employment is in accordance with rules set by the U.S. House Committee on Ethics,” Kahele’s office stated. “In 2022, Congressman Kahele has flown three flights for a total of 14.2 flying hours and has earned $2,861.90. In 2021, the Congressman’s outside earned income totaled $29,151.79.”

His office went on to claim that by continuing his work as a qualified commercial air transport pilot, Kahele “brings a unique perspective” to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and “strengthens the voices of all pilots, cabin crews and air cargo operators,”

He reportedly skipped President Biden’s State of the Union address, meetings between Hawaii’s federal delegation and city officials, and a House Armed Services Committee hearing that took place just last week.

Kahele succeeded Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in Congress after being critical of her for purportedly abandoning constituents in her 2020 presidential run. He is the second Native Hawaiian elected to Congress and is a military pilot combat veteran. He reportedly supports the Green New Deal and “Medicare-for-all.”


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