Ethics Committee continuing investigation into Kahele's campaign finances
By Kim Jarrett The Center Square, Nov 28, 2022
The U.S. House Ethics Commission dismissed allegations that Rep. Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, may have benefited financially from votes he made but is continuing an investigation into possible misuse of his office to promote his campaigns.
The report released Monday said that Kahele made "misleading statements" to the staff members with the Office on Congressional Ethics and recommended a subpoena for Kahele. The committee also found that Kahele violated a rule that prohibited members of Congress from including a link to their official government sites on campaign material.
Kahele, who took office in 2021, announced earlier this year that he was leaving Congress to run for governor of Hawaii. He was defeated in the Democratic primary by Gov.-elect Josh Green. His congressional and gubernatorial campaigns were active on social media, according to the report.
"In a letter to the OCE, Rep. Kahele asserted that his Instagram and Twitter accounts were maintained as personal accounts," the report said. "This runs contrary to the explicit campaign-nature of the content posted, especially on Twitter and Instagram, the fact that Rep. Kahele's campaign website historically linked directly to these social media accounts, and the fact that the accounts included fundraising requests."
If the committee finds Kahele used his official resources for campaign or political purposes, "he may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law," the report said.
Kahele denied using misusing his official resources in a letter to former Ethics Committee Chairman Ted Deutch, D-Fla, sent on Sept. 14.
"I have never posted official material in my capacity as a U.S. Representative on my political campaign account," Kahele said.
The committee found Kahele's correspondence concerning aviation legislation as "standard" for a member of Congress. Kahele was employed as a pilot with Hawaiian Airlines and a member of the Air Line Pilots Association during his tenure in Congress.
"The OCE reviewed thousands of emails involving Rep. Kahele's congressional staff, ALPA and Hawaiian Airlines, and did not find any emails showing problematic activity," the commission said in its report. "Communications indicate that when ALPA or Hawaiian Airlines were interested in setting up a meeting with Rep. Kahele or his staff, they both followed the normal course and contacted Rep. Kahele's Scheduler or Legislative Director to inquire about proper protocol."
The committee did not indicate when the investigation into Kahele's use of his office in his campaign materials would be complete and said no further comment would be made. Kahele's one-term in Congress ends in December.
SA: Kai Kahele facing new ethics allegations