House Ethics Committee investigates Hawaii Democrat over social media use

Kahele ran unsuccessfully for governor of Hawaii this year and will leave his post in the lower chamber of Congress when the current session ends.

Updated: November 28, 2022 - 10:08pm

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The House Ethics Committee is investigating Hawaii Democratic Rep. Kai Kahele over the alleged use of official resources on his campaign social media accounts.

"Rep. Kahele's campaign social media accounts may have posted videos and photos that were photographed or filmed from official House buildings, rooms, and offices, used official graphics and social media posts, shared official communications, or promoted official events," reads an Office of Congressional Ethics report. "If Rep. Kahele misused official resources for campaign or political purposes or used campaign funds to defray official expenses, then he may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law."

Kahele came under fire over retweets of his official press releases and personal pictures at the U.S. Capitol, which could have violated House rules. The panel voted 6-0 to recommend the HEC review the allegations.

"The Board recommends that the Committee on Ethics of the United States House of Representatives (“Committee”) further review the above allegation concerning Rep. Kahele because there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Kahele misused official resources for campaign or political purposes or used campaign funds to defray official expenses," it continued.

Kahele ran unsuccessfully for governor of Hawaii this year and will leave his post in the lower chamber of Congress when the current session ends. His departure may end the investigation as the House Ethics Committee does not have jurisdiction over former members, Politico noted.

The OCE report also recommended the HEC dismiss allegations that Kahele took official actions motivated by personal financial interest, due to lack of evidence.

Kahele denied the allegations, saying in a letter to the ethics panel that "[c]ontrary to the allegation presented in the OCE referral, I have never posted official material in my capacity as a U.S. Representative on my political campaign account."