Politics

Democratic Hill staffers head to Maui on taxpayers’ dime for Senate Indian Affairs Committee field hearing

Senate Democrats are charging taxpayers for a trip to Hawaii, The Daily Caller has learned. The entire press staff of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is in Maui, even though a field hearing there won’t happen until next Wednesday.

The committee’s oversight field hearing, scheduled for August 17 at 9:00 a.m. at the Maui Beach Hotel, will focus on “Strengthening Self-Sufficiency: Overcoming Barriers to Economic Development in Native Communities.”

Rick Manning from Americans for Limited Government, which first discovered the hearing, told TheDC it’s unbelievable that Hill staffers talking about fiscal responsibility would waste money on a trip to Maui.

“It’s outrageous that Senate Democrats have so little respect for the American taxpayer that in the same month they buried our credit rating, they’re heading to Hawaii to celebrate,” Manning said.

A committee staffer told TheDC that the reason the hearing will be in Maui is “mostly because it’s his [committee chairman Sen. Daniel Akaka’s] home state.” It’s unclear if the field hearing will focus on any issues relating at all to Hawaii, or if the reasoning for scheduling the trip there is only because Akaka will already be in Hawaii during the congressional recess.

The staffer said Akaka is the only senator who will attend.

The Democratic committee staffers used taxpayer funding to travel to Hawaii a full week before their committee’s hearing date. When TheDC called the committee’s Washington, D.C., office Thursday afternoon, a different staffer who answered the phone said all the committee’s communications staffers are already in Maui.

It’s unclear if other committee employees, in addition to communications staff, are also in Maui.

It’s standard practice for taxpayers to cover travel expenses for congressional committee staffers, but there’s no way to know at this point how much the trip will cost, unless staffers offer up the information.

Committee staff declined to answer specific questions about why the field hearing was scheduled in Maui, nor would they say how many of their colleagues were there, on their way there, or scheduled to travel there.

They deferred all questions to the committee’s press staff, which is already, in its entirety, in Maui.

No one among the press staff in Maui has returned the TheDC’s phone calls for comment.