Absent Democratic lawmaker also working as airline pilot returns to Washington after bad headlines
by Marisa Schultz, Fox News, April 26, 2022
A Hawaii Democrat who hasn't reported to work in Washington in months has returned to Congress following a string of bad headlines about his absences.
Rep. Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, was spotted Tuesday afternoon in the Capitol rotunda snapping pictures with a group of people that appeared to be on a tour. It marks the first time Kahele has shown up to Congress for votes since January.
In a brief interview with Fox News Digital, Kahele defended his absences and noted that he's never technically missed votes while staying behind in Hawaii.
"I haven't missed a single vote this entire year. Not a single one," Kahele said.
The House instituted proxy voting during the coronavirus pandemic that allows a colleague to vote on behalf of an absent lawmaker. Kahele has previously cited legitimate COVID-19 concerns regarding new variants and living in a "multi-generational home" for his absences and prolonged use of proxy voting.
The Honolulu Civil Beat first reported that Kahele had only shown up for five votes in 2022 while still working part-time as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines.
Kahele's office previously defended his work at Hawaiian Airlines as being permitted by House ethics rules and argued his flight experience brings a positive perspective to Congress – including on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that handles aviation policy.
Asked Tuesday if he intends to still work for Hawaiian Airlines while in Congress, "Yeah, absolutely," Kahele told Fox News Digital.
Kahele's office previously said he flies for Hawaiian Airlines only on occasion to maintain his pilot certification and within the limits of House ethics rules, which capped annual outside income at $29,895 in 2022.
His salary as a member of Congress is $174,000.
NYPost: Rare sighting: Hawaii Democrat spotted in DC after avoiding in-person votes