“I’d like to see the responses to the questions,” the Utah Republican said, adding that Hawaii is in the 9th Circuit.
In a release, Grassley said he was surprised by the possible cost of the conference and suggested that there are other less expensive options. Grassley and Sessions estimated that the conference would cost more than $500,000 for an expected 700 attendees.
The 2012 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference is scheduled for Aug. 13-16 at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, according to the court’s website. Attendees include judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the federal district and bankruptcy courts in nine Western states and two Pacific island territories, representatives of the federal bar practicing in these courts, court staff and special guests.
Alito and fellow Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy are also scheduled to attend, according to the website.
Despite the disclaimer that attendees are responsible for their own recreational costs, Grassley and Sessions highlighted several events that run the risk of wasting taxpayer dollars, including sport fishing and a golf tournament.
“Throughout the conference there are other activities unrelated to the business of the court, including yoga, surfing, stand-up paddle board lessons, Zumba (a Latin-inspired dance program), a tennis tournament, a day trip and tour of Up-country Maui, a Gemini Catamaran snorkel trip, and an activity called ‘the Aloha Experience,’” the letter said. “The program reads more like a vacation than a business trip to discuss the means of improving the administration of justice.”
Their letter contained a list of 18 questions, about half of which inquired about past conferences. The rest of the questions centered on this summer’s conference, including, “Why was the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa selected as the venue?” The letter asks for responses to the questions no later than June 15, “before any additional funds are expended towards this conference.”
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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