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Absent Dem lawmaker sits on committee dealing with payments affecting his employer, Hawaiian Airways

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A Hawaii Democrat who has been absent from Congress for months has a particular association with Hawaiian Airways to proceed to earn a dwelling as a pilot, whereas serving to the airline’s priorities in Washington, in keeping with a brand new report. 

Rep. Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, benefited from a brand new go away coverage for Hawaiian Airways pilots crafted after Kahele’s election to Congress in November 2020 that might enable him to keep up flight standing and seniority with the corporate whereas he represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District in Washington, in keeping with the Honolulu Civil Beat. 

The association, accredited by the airline and Air Line Pilots Affiliation (ALPA), utilized to elected officers and appointees in authorities “instantly related with aviation.”

Kahele sits on the aviation panel of the Home Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the committee that oversees the airline trade. Hawaiian Airways lobbies Congress, and Kahele is instantly concerned in contemplating laws that his employer is seeking to affect, Punchbowl Information identified. 

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In the meantime, Hawaiian Airways’ political motion committee has donated hundreds of {dollars} to Kahele’s marketing campaign. It additionally has enterprise earlier than one other committee Kahele sits on — the Armed Companies Committee. The ALPA additionally donated hundreds of {dollars} to Kahele’s marketing campaign. 

Rep. Kai Kahele

Kai Kahele of Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District arrives in Washington for congressional orientation in November 2020.  (Marisa Schultz/Fox Information / Fox Information)

Hawaiian Airways lobbied Congress on not less than six payments for which Kahele was a co-sponsor, together with the Honest and Open Skies Act, which aimed to handle labor considerations and curb competitors from international air carriers, the Civil Beat reported. 

“Rep. Kahele’s actions increase alarming ethics and conflict-of-interest considerations,” a senior Republican aide advised Fox Information Digital. “He was contemplating, drafting and amending laws that might have a direct affect on his employer and in the end his paycheck. And it’s unclear whether or not he was additionally receiving particular lodging by his employer to rearrange for his flight schedule, which could possibly be thought-about one thing of worth in violation of the reward rule.”

Hawaiian Air

A Hawaiian Airways Airbus A330-200 takes off from San Francisco Worldwide Airport Feb. 16, 2015. (REUTERS/Louis Nastro / Reuters)

The problems of Kahele’s double employment have come to gentle because the freshman lawmaker has hardly ever proven as much as work in Washington this 12 months, solely casting 5 votes in individual over the course of three days in January, in keeping with an evaluation from the Honolulu Civil Beat. 

The remainder of his 120 votes had been forged by proxy, which suggests a colleague voted on his behalf whereas he remained in Hawaii. 

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Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has permitted proxy voting because the begin of the pandemic, whereas in-person voting remains to be required within the Senate. Kahele’s workplace has defended his proxy voting as obligatory as a result of he is “deeply involved” for the well being of his household and sought to “restrict his publicity” to COVID-19 by reducing “cross-country journey.” 

Rep. Kai Kahele

Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, pronounces his major problem in opposition to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, R-Hawaii. (Courtesy of Kai Kahele for Congress / Fox Information)

Kris Tanahara, managing director of company communications for Hawaiian Airways, defended the settlement to the Civil Beat, saying the corporate “labored to grasp the legal guidelines referring to Congressman Kahele’s curiosity in sustaining his foreign money as a pilot whereas adhering to his compliance obligations as an elected official.”

“The settlement that’s at present in place covers all pilots, permitting them to fulfill their civic duties and employment obligations in accordance with established ethics guidelines,” Tanahara mentioned.

Neither Kahele nor his spokesperson responded to Fox Information’ request for remark Friday. A spokesperson for Pelosi didn’t instantly reply on whether or not she was conscious of Kahele’s double employment and backing laws from his employer.

Kahele’s workplace beforehand defended his work at Hawaiian Airways as being permitted by Home ethics guidelines and argued his flight expertise brings a optimistic perspective to Congress. 

Rep. Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii

Rep Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, is a pilot within the army in addition to for Hawaiian Airways. “I’ve all the time had the power to convey folks collectively,” Kahele mentioned. “In instances of disaster, I perform at my most optimum in a high-stress scenario.” (Courtesy of Kai Kahele for Congress / Fox Information)

“The Congressman brings a singular perspective to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as a present and certified U.S. industrial air transport pilot and strengthens the voices of all pilots, cabin crews and air cargo operators at residence in Hawaii and all through america,” Kahele’s workplace advised Fox Information Digital Tuesday. 

As for the pilot revenue, Kahele’s workplace mentioned he flies for Hawaiian Airways solely once in a while to keep up his pilot certification and throughout the limits of Home ethics guidelines, which capped annual outdoors revenue at $29,895 in 2022.

“The Congressman’s outdoors employment is in accordance with guidelines set by the U.S. Home Committee on Ethics,” the congressman’s workplace mentioned.

“In 2022, Congressman Kahele has flown three flights for a complete of 14.2 flying hours and has earned $2,861.90. In 2021, the Congressman’s outdoors earned revenue totaled $29,151.79.”

The Air Line Pilots Affiliation (ALPA) declined to remark particularly concerning the settlement that allowed Kahele to work part-time whereas serving in Congress however issued a press release praising the congressman for bringing “sensible, real-world expertise” to Washington. 

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“Rep. Kahele is a powerful advocate for aviation security, frontline staff and people who helped us via the pandemic,” the ALPA mentioned in a press release to Fox Information Digital. “His sensible, real-world expertise as a industrial and army aviator present him with material experience that’s extraordinarily helpful in Congress and to the American public. 

“We salute him for his service to our nation and his dedication to staying grounded in the actual world whereas serving in Congress.”

Fox Information’ Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report. 

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