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Lavish junket?

Las Vegas has an ally in fighting off critics who seek to demonize tourist destinations as magnets for wasteful government junkets.

Following the recent controversy over the 2010 General Services Administration conference in Henderson, local and state officials have battled the perception that the Las Vegas area is an inappropriate locale for federal conferences.

Critics missed the mark. The issue wasn’t location, it was the lavish spending – which could have occurred in Chicago, Orlando, New York City or any other convention destination.

Now, Hawaii officials face the same issue.

The state is much more than “sunsets and beautiful beaches,” Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye said this week after two of his GOP colleagues questioned why federal judges with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals planned to hold an upcoming conference in Maui.

But Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, called the decision to go to Hawaii “tone deaf” and noted it will cost taxpayers $1.1 million in travel and hotel expenses.

Whether the conference goes off as planned remains to be seen. But if Sen. Grassley and others manage to scuttle the event, it’s worth reminding the 9th Circuit judges that – while they might have to leave their surfboards at home – Las Vegas would be happy to step up on late notice.

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