WASHINGTON — Hawaii’s congressional delegates collectively made dozens of roundtrips between Washington and Hawaii in the past year — nearly 40 such trips among Sen. Daniel Akaka, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Rep. Mazie Hirono alone.
While that means as a group they logged nearly 200,000 miles of airtime, each of Hawaii’s congressional representatives made it home about once a month on average.
Civil Beat asked the delegates to provide their travel information.
Among Hawaii’s delegates, Hanabusa traveled back to the Islands the most in the past year: 14 roundtrips from Washington between Jan. 1, 2011 and Jan. 23, 2012. She has earned the highest elite status on United Airlines as a result, according to a spokeswoman in her Washington office.
Hirono made 13 roundtrips in that same time period. Akaka’s tally was 10. The United States Capitol Police advised Sen. Daniel Inouye not to make public his travel schedule.
“Due to his position as a successor (to the president) this information is not typically released to the public,” said Kathleen McBride, a lieutenant in the Dignitary Protection Division, in an email sent to Civil Beat.
But we already know about some of Inouye’s recent travels. For example, Civil Beat spotted him at a rail groundbreaking ceremony in Honolulu last February. He sat down with Civil Beat’s editorial board in Kaimuki last April. Inouye was also in Honolulu for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November.
While Hanabusa clocked the most mileage to and from Hawaii in 2011, Hirono made by far the most trips to islands other than Oahu. This makes sense: Hirono represents the 2nd Congressional District, so many of her constituents live on the neighbor islands.
During Hirono’s time in Hawaii over the course of the year, she made 13 trips to the Big Island, six trips to Maui and five trips to Kauai. Hanabusa made one trip to Kauai to visit the Pacific Missile Range Facility, and Akaka made one trip to Maui for a field hearing.
“I don’t get much sleep,” Hirono said in an interview with Civil Beat. “Every Hawaii representative has to balance being in Hawaii and in D.C. We can definitely multitask. This is what we do.”
Hawaii can expect to see more of Hanabusa and Hirono in the coming months — both congresswomen are campaigning in upcoming elections, and the 2012 congressional calendar gives them plenty of time to make trips home.
Hirono downplayed the balancing act of campaigning and serving in Congress as “nothing new,” though also acknowledged that the coming months will be “an intense time.”
“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Hirono said. “I fully intend to do the job I have to represent my constituents, to listen to them, to stay in touch with them, and to be able to do that at the same time as I’m getting the campaign message out.”
Hanabusa said she’ll rely heavily on campaign volunteers in Hawaii to spread the word about her re-election campaign. One benefit for the congresswoman is that so far she isn’t facing a Democratic challenger in the August primary. Hanabusa is set to face former Rep. Charles Djou, a Republican, in the general election.
“I do not have a difficult primary, which means that the whole month of August is a recess period in district,” Hanabusa said. “I have an active group of grassroots volunteers (in Hawaii) who are all ready to start. They will be doing their things to keep the campaign relevant, I’m hoping we’ll be able to get back home and work into that schedule.”
Here’s a look at the delegates travel schedules over the past year:
|1/10 – 1/21||Oahu||District work period 1|
|2/21 – 2/25||Oahu||District work period|
|3/21 – 3/25||Oahu||District work period|
|4/18 – 4/29||Oahu||District work period|
|5/30 – 6/3||Oahu||District work period|
|8/8 – 9/5||Oahu, Maui||District work period|
|9/26 – 9/30||Oahu||District work period|
|10/24 – 10/28||Oahu||District work period|
|11/21 – 11/25||Oahu||District work period|
|12/19 – 1/20||Oahu||District work period|
|1/13 – 1/17||Oahu||District work period|
|1/28 – 2/7||Oahu||District work period|
|2/19 – 2/25||Oahu||District work period|
|3/7||Guantanamo Bay||Congressional delegation|
|3/18 – 3/28||Oahu||District work period|
|4/16 – 5/1||Oahu||District work period|
|5/16 – 5/22||Oahu||District work period|
|6/4 – 6/12||Oahu||District work period|
|6/25 – 7/5||Oahu||District work period|
|8/3 – 9/6||Oahu, Kauai||District work period|
|9/24 – 10/2||Oahu||District work period|
|10/7||Rock Island, Ill.||Defense Business Panel hearing|
|10/15 – 10/23||Oahu||District work period|
|10/28||Akron, Ohio||Defense Business Panel hearing|
|11/5 – 11/13||Oahu||APEC, district work period|
|11/19 – 11/28||Oahu||District work period|
|12/8 – 12/9||New Jersey (by train)||Defense Business Panel hearing|
|12/21 – 1/17||Oahu, L.A., S.F.2||District work period, hearings|
|1/14 – 1/17||Oahu||District work period 4|
|1/28 – 2/7||Oahu, Big Island||District work period|
|2/14||Beckley, West Va.||Transportation Committee hearing|
|2/20 – 2/25||Tokyo, Japan||Center for International Exchange Conference|
|3/18 – 3/27||Oahu, Big Island||District work period|
|4/16 – 4/30||Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Big Island||District work period|
|5/28 – 5/30||Honolulu, Maui, Big Island||District work period|
|6/8 – 6/10||Oahu, Big Island||District work period|
|6/28 – 7/5||Oahu, Big Island||District work period|
|8/5 – 9/5||Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Big Island||District work period|
|9/16 – 9/17||San Francisco||APEC Women and the Economy Summit|
|9/29 – 10/2||Oahu, Kauai, Big Island||District work period|
|10/10||Haiti||House Democracy Project|
|10/17||San Francisco||Commission on the Status of Women luncheon|
|10/19 – 10/22||Oahu, Maui, Big Island||District work period|
|11/6 – 11/13||Oahu, Big Island||APEC, district work period|
|11/21 – 11/26||Oahu, Big Island||District work period|
|12/28 – 1/14||Oahu, Kauai Maui, Big Island||District work period|
Members of Congress typically use their yearly allowances to pay for trips back to their districts. A spokeswoman for Hanabusa said that she typically pays between $800 – $1,300 per trip, which is similar to market value, depending on the time of year and availability of a special government rate.