Hawaii Democratic Representative Kai Kahele declared his intention to go against then-Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District.
Then, he tried to attack Gabbard for forgoing her congressional duties in pursuit of a long-shot presidential bid.
Yet, less than two years into his initial term, it is Kahele who is failing to report to work, at least for the position for which taxpayers pay him.
As Honolulu Civil Beat first reported, Kahele has not sat in attendance on the House floor since early January. He also missed critical meetings with the Federal Transit Administration and briefings before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
When asked by Civil Beat for a schedule of Kahele’s recent activities, his administration declined to answer.
It’s time to end proxy voting in the House. This is ridiculous. Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) hasn’t voted on any bills since January. Disengaged on approps. But he’s posting pictures of himself at marijuana dispensaries and still working as an airline pilot. https://t.co/DZ6r60ZMkR
— James Hohmann (@jameshohmann) April 11, 2022
Civil Beat did reveal, however, that Kahele keeps working as a Hawaiian Airlines pilot, earning almost $120,000 more per year than the $174,000 taxpayer-funded salary he receives to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District.
As per lobbyists who deal with the Hawaiian delegation, Kahele’s staff seems to have resigned.
“The office has always had a work ethic,” a source told Civil Beat, “but it’s clear they’ve chosen to stop showing up.”
The Norm Amongst Democrats
One congressperson failing to report to work, even for months at a time, would be unremarkable.
However, it appears to have become a widespread habit among Democrats in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.
A recent Capitol Hill inspection discovered up to six offices belonging to Senate Democrats had signs out front, stating that no staffers worked there in person.
Six additional Democratic Senate offices seemed to be vacant, with no staff on hand to meet constituents at the front desk.
Numerous offices of House Democrats look to be equally deserted.
These omissions might have been understandable during the COVID era.
However, this sweep of Capitol Hill occurred in response to President Biden’s State of the Union address, which remarked, “It is past time for Americans to return to work and repopulate our magnificent downtowns.”
Pres. Biden begins his State of the Union address: ‘Last year COVID-19 kept us apart, this year we’re finally together again’ pic.twitter.com/cwY9fM0l7Q
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 2, 2022
Democratic staffers appear too afraid of COVID to report to work, or perhaps they are simply too lazy.
Democrats can’t have their cake and eat it as well.
They cannot ask others to return to work while failing to return to work themselves. Staff may do a great deal legislatively via Zoom. Staff can assist constituents via email in a variety of ways.
However, a legislative staff is far more effective at serving people and advancing legislative agendas when they are present in person, or when at least a few of them are.
It is ultimately up to voters to decide whether or not these Democrats must report to work.
If Democrats are defeated in 2022, their decision to abandon their constituents will be a significant factor in their defeat.