LAS VEGAS — A Republican U.S. senator was all set to raise a ruckus about what appeared to be a federal agency sending workers to Las Vegas on the taxpayers' dime. But it turned out to be a false alarm.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., demanded to know why the Federal Emergency Management Agency had scheduled a gathering for 220 employees here in May. Citing President Barack Obama's recent condemnation of spending government money on trips to Las Vegas, he wanted to know how much it was going to cost and why it was necessary.
"While Las Vegas, or any other location, does not deserve to be unfairly singled out, we cannot expect taxpayers to pick up the tab for any extravagant junket when less expensive alternatives exist," Coburn wrote Wednesday in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, of which FEMA is part.
Coburn's accusation was based on a passing reference to such a conference in a news story in Federal Times, a publication for government employees. However, it turned out that the conference in question will bring together local employees of federal agencies to be trained by FEMA staffers.