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Rand Paul Wants Investigation on 2009 Change in Vegas Policy

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) today sent a letter to House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asking him to investigate a 2009 change in administration policy that lifted a ban on government conferences in resort cities like Las Vegas.

Paul cited letters reported Monday by Roll Call between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel pressing the administration to support business in resort towns.

Earlier today, Reid sent a letter of his own to Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who was holding a hearing on the controversial General Services Administration’s lavish 2010 conference, to defend his support for Nevada tourism.

“In light of the recent extravagant spending within the [General Services Administration], and the subsequent House and Senate hearings, I respectfully ask you to investigate how many government agency conferences, from any agency throughout government, were held in Las Vegas since the Administration reversed its previous policy,” Paul wrote in his letter to Issa.

In the note, the Kentucky freshman asks for an inquiry into “special permission” granted to agencies to meet in Las Vegas. However, Reid’s original request was only that all cities, whether in Nevada or Florida, be considered equally and fairly.

Reid’s letter today in support of Nevada business followed a defense Tuesday of his 2009 efforts in his weekly availability with reporters.

“While some members of Congress may choose to focus their outrage on Las Vegas, the GSA’s misuse of tax dollars could have occurred in any city in the nation,” Reid wrote in his letter. “Fundamentally, today’s hearing is not about Las Vegas or where people choose to hold conferences and meetings. The heart of the issue is the need to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, and to ensure that proper internal controls are in place at every federal agency to prevent wasteful spending.”

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