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Kahele defends dual role as member of Congress and Hawaiian Airlines pilot, along with proxy voting record

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Members of Congress are restricted to incomes a most of $29,895 from outside sources of income in 2022, based on guidelines set by the Home Ethics Committee. In an announcement, Kahele’s workplace mentioned the Hawaii Democrat had earned $29,151.79 from Hawaiian Airways in 2021. And thus far this 12 months, Kahele has flown three flights for a complete of 14.2 flying hours, incomes lower than $2,861.90.

His exterior earnings additionally raised questions on a possible battle of curiosity, since Hawaiian Airways has enterprise earlier than the Home Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Kahele serves on that committee, which has jurisdiction over the airline trade.

The Home Ethics Committee declined CNN’s request for remark.

Kahele’s workplace additionally defined that he has not voted in individual since January as a result of he’s apprehensive about new coronavirus variants and lives in a multigenerational household house. However his workplace mentioned he stays dedicated to his work in DC.

“To restrict his publicity to COVID-19 and the potential to unfold the virus, our workplace has tried to cut back Rep. Kahele’s cross-country journey whereas guaranteeing he fulfills all of his obligations in Congress,” Kahele’s spokesperson mentioned within the assertion offered by the congressman.

“The Congressman has not missed a single vote this 12 months. He continues to take part in HASC and T&I Committee hearings and maximizes his time again house by partaking along with his constituents and addressing their considerations on the federal stage.”

Questions on Kahele’s work with Hawaiian Airways arose after the Honolulu Civil Beat printed an in-depth story wanting into his attendance on the Capitol this 12 months and his private earnings since he entered workplace. The report discovered that Kahele has voted by proxy not less than 120 instances because the begin of the 12 months, which means one other lawmaker has solid his votes for him.

Hawaiian Airways has instantly lobbied the federal authorities on a slew of payments, a number of of which Kahele is a co-sponsor, and CNN has confirmed the airline contributed to Kahele’s marketing campaign yearly since 2019. Whereas the association is uncommon, Kahele’s assist for these payments and the donations from Hawaiian Airways are usually not unlawful.

Hawaiian Airways didn’t reply to CNN’s a number of requests for remark.

Kahele’s workplace defended his seat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, saying his background as a industrial pilot provides a “distinctive perspective.”

“The Congressman brings a singular perspective to the T&I 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 house in Hawaiʻi and all through the US,” his spokesman mentioned.

Air Line Pilots Affiliation President Capt. Joe DePete defended Kahele in an announcement, saying he’s a “robust advocate for aviation security, frontline staff and those that helped us by the pandemic.”

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

Kahele, a freshman congressman who was elected in 2020 to exchange Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, was a pilot earlier than he ran for workplace. The Honolulu Civil Beat reported that Kahele is contemplating a run for governor this 12 months.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Pete Muntean and Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.