Judges' $1M Maui Trip Turns Heads in Congress
Ninth Circuit conference would include full-service spa
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2012 3:30 PM CDT
Left to right: Senior Circuit Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, Circuit Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt, and Circuit Judge N. Randy Smith in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Dec. 6, 2010, in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, Pool)

(Newser) – US senators are scrutinizing a planned Maui getaway for circuit court judges that could cost more than $1 million in taxpayer dollars, Fox News reports. Scheduled for August, the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference would allow judges, attorneys, staff, and "special guests" to stay at a Hyatt Regency resort spa with a per diem baseline of $289. Activities such as golf, paddle-board lessons, and a floral design workshop would be available but not on the taxpayers' tab.

"The programs read more like a vacation than a business trip to discuss the means of improving the administration of justice," wrote Sens. Jeff Sessions and Chuck Grassley. Circuit Court Executive Cathy Catterson issued a written response, saying the trip was "authorized by law" for court business. But more will follow: The GOP senators have requested a breakdown of costs and reminded the judges of the recent General Services Administration scandal in Las Vegas, which set back taxpayers more than $800,000.