Source: FOX News
MAUI, Hawaii -- Hawaii, here they come.
Federal judges in the 9th Circuit appear to be going ahead with plans to host their annual conference in Maui, defending the sunny location as cost-effective despite concerns from US lawmakers.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) -- who complained about the scheduled August conference several weeks ago and estimated it could cost more than $1 million -- demanded details about the trip, on the heels of the scandal surrounding one agency's lavish Las Vegas conference.
But in a lengthy response, 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski defended the choice to host the affair at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, where the group also stayed in 2010.
He said planners looked at other sites in the western circuit area -- including Alaska and Idaho -- but found a good deal on Maui.
"The decision to return to Maui was based on a very competitive room rate and lesser travel costs due to the greater number of air carriers competing in the Hawaii travel market," he wrote.
The rate is $230 a night.
Kozinski also defended the conferences themselves, saying they are "renowned for the quality and depth of their educational programs." He said 27 business meetings will be held at the upcoming conference, claiming that saves money since those meetings would otherwise be held in several different places at different times.
Attorneys and other judiciary staff members also attend the conferences.
The court's response did little to satisfy the lawmakers' concerns.
"We remain deeply concerned about the conference's overall costs, as well as the lavish recreational schedule, given that the event is subsidized by taxpayers," Sessions said in a written statement Monday. "It appears Circuit officials remain defiantly unapologetic about the conference's scale, location and itinerary in our current hour of financial crisis. They show no indication of changing their financial behavior in the future."
Grassley suggested "using technology to share information without requiring a trip to an island paradise."
Sessions and Grassley also voiced concern about the itinerary for the conference, which advertises an array of recreational activities, including sport fishing, golf, paddle-board lessons, yoga and Zumba.