Reports: Kahele leaving Congress to run for governor

(The Center Square) - U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele is leaving Congress to run for governor, according to multiple media reports.

CNN and Punchbowl News reported the congresswoman’s plans. A spokesperson from Kahele’s office did not immediately return an email message from The Center Square asking for confirmation of the reports.

Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a nonprofit watchdog group, filed a complaint against Kahele last month alleging conflict of interest and abuse of Congress’ proxy voting rules.

Kahele, D-Hawaii, serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Aviation Subcommittee. He is employed as a pilot with Hawaiian Airlines and voted on four bills that affected the aviation committee, FACT said in its complaint.

He also voted by proxy more than 120 times this year, the organization alleges. He filed a letter with the House of Representatives clerk that said it was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the complaint.

That was not the case, FACT alleged in their complaint.

” For each of his 120 proxy votes, Kahele stated he was ‘unable to physically attend’ House proceedings due to the COVID-19 pandemic,’” the organization added in its complaint. “However, it clearly appears that was not the reason Kahele did not vote in person for approximately three months. Rather, seemingly it was because he was attending other public and political events during this time.”

Kahele joins a crowded slate of Democratic candidates, including some names familiar to Hawaiians. According to the Hawaii Office of Elections, Lt. Governor Josh Green, former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and former First Lady Vicky Cayetano have qualified.

Gov. David Ige is term-limited and cannot run again. Qualifying for the August 13 primary election ends June 7.

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