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FACT Calls for Investigation into Rep. Kai Kahele

Evidence shows Rep. Kahele (HI) ignored House ethics laws regarding conflicts of interest and proxy voting

Washington, D.C.— April 19, 2022— Today, the non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint requesting the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigate Congressman Kai Kahele of Hawaii for presenting conflict of interest concerns and abuse of proxy voting.

The House Ethics rules require Members to refrain from taking official action when the Member has a conflict of interest, and it applies to both an apparent or actual conflict.

Rep. Kahele worked as pilot for Hawaiian Airlines before becoming a Member of Congress and reported both he and his wife earned income from the company in 2020. Since becoming a Member, Kahele continues to be affiliated with Hawaiian Airlines and earns income from the company, while also simultaneously serving on a Congressional committee and co-sponsoring bills that directly affect his outside employer Hawaiian Airlines. In 2021, Rep. Kahele co-sponsored four bills that directly affected the aviation industry, all of which Hawaiian Airlines lobbied on, including a bill that provided tax credits to the airline industry.

Additionally, as of May 15, 2020, House Ethics rules authorized the ability to vote by proxy at any time after the Speaker of the House was notified by Sergeant-At-Arms that a "public health emergency due to a novel coronavirus is in effect." Thus, the purpose of proxy voting must be due to a "public health emergency" and the procedure of proxy voting was not permitted for any other purpose.

Evidence shows Rep. Kahele voted by proxy 120 times due to being "unable to physically attend" House proceedings because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 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.

"The ethics rules function to maintain the integrity of government action, and the Office of Congressional Ethics is responsible for ensuring each Representative fulfills the public trust inherent in the office and that they comply with the House’s ethical standards. Therefore, we urge the Board to immediately investigate Representative Kahele for taking official action in violation of the conflict of interest rules and for abusing the proxy vote," said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.

A full copy of the complaint can be found here.

FACT is a nonprofit organization to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/

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