A nonprofit watchdog group filed a complaint against U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, alleging conflict of interest and abuse of Congress’ proxy voting rules.

Kahele 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, the the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) said in its complaint.

“The employment relationship is one that would, at a minimum, give the appearance the Member was unable to act impartially or that the employer has special access to the Member,” the group said in its complaint. “Moreover, this is a case where a stricter conflict of interest analysis applies because Kahele is cosponsoring legislation and taking action as a committee member that directly affects his outside employer, which is further evidenced by Hawaiian Airlines lobbying on the bills Kahele cosponsored and the subject matter of the committee.”

Kahele 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 public health emergency, according to the complaint.

That was not the case, FACT alleges.

”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.”

A spokesman from Kahele’s office did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

Kahele has hinted at but not confirmed that he would run for governor of Hawaii, according to published reports. Gov. David Ige is term limited and cannot serve another four years.

A former Hawaii state senator, Kahele was first elected to Congress in January 2021.

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