By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
When U.S. Representative from Hawaii Kai Kahele began campaigning for Congress in 2019, he promised his constituents that he would show up and do his job. Now, more than four months into 2022, he has only been present in Washington, D.C. for five out of 125 votes, casting the rest by proxy from Hawaii, according to Honolulu Civil Beat.
Speculation has arisen that perhaps his absences are because he kept his job as a commercial airline pilot, the news outlet reported.
According to his House financial disclosure, Kahele made $120,000 from Hawaiian Airlines in 2020, his first year as a U.S. representative. His salary as a representative is $174,000, resulting in a total annual salary of $294,000.
In addition to his absences, his choice to remain an active pilot raises serious conflict of interest concerns. Jake Sherman, a reporter for Punchbowl News, reported that Kahele is a member of the House Aviation subcommittee, and voted on bills that his employer, Hawaiian Airlines, lobbied for.
Kahele’s office claims the House Ethics Committee has approved of this arrangement, but has not produced any evidence. News organizations have recently reported the congressman is retiring to run for governor.
Regardless, public servants should show up for work. They also should recuse themselves on votes in which their employer has an interest. The House needs to require their members to come to Washington, D.C., and Kahele needs to focus on the job his constituents elected him to do.
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