Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski offered up a largely empty defense of the 9th Circuit's plans for a plush million dollar "Maui Wowie" conference, in response to questions from Senators Sessions and Grassley. Much of the Circuits conference will be at the taxpayers' expense.
A review of the response suggests the 9th Circuit doesn't even have a handle on the actual costs for the conference, or it isn't the least bit interested in providing the Senators with the level of detail requested.
Additionally, it appears as though attendees from both the private and public sectors can travel to Maui at taxpayer expense and not attend a single formal conference event. It's unclear how many individuals may be flying into Maui for what amounts to little more than a vacation.
Citing an inability to provide the detailed response requested, Kozinski writes, "... the information you are seeking is not available to us or cannot be gathered without an enormous outlay of staff time." Were the conference managed as professionally and efficiently as Kozinski suggests in other portions of his response, it's difficult to understand why the information is not already on hand.
As for what's expected from attendees after being flown into and lodged in Maui by taxpayers, Kozinski's response is so vague, it's impossible to conclude attendees aren't completely free to do as they choose during their almost week long excursion to Maui. "Judges and court officials are expected to participate in all educational programs and any official meetings that are held during the Conference," writes Kozinski.
It's fine to "expect" certain things, but not once does Kozinki indicate attendees are required to do much of anything other than hop a free flight to Maui and check into a first class resort.
In a related document un-earthed by Breitbart News, it's clear that, as other Circuits have either cancelled, or substantially cut back on the costs of any annual conferences, the 9th Circuit hasn't suffered any headwinds when it comes to subsidizing travel and lodging costs for hundreds of attendees. They can presumably bone up on their professional responsibilities at some of the world's finest resport destinations.
As Fox News pointed out back in May, "The Maui meet-up, scheduled for August, would mark the fourth time in just the past decade the 9th Circuit -- which spans western states -- held its annual conference in Hawaii. And they haven't exactly been slumming it the other years. The 9th Circuit's annual conference frequently has been held in upscale resorts and spas across the western states, even as other circuits are now either canceling the conference or scaling back."
Sources on the Hill suggest efforts to get substantive answers from the 9th Circuit are far from over.