Obama panel probes stimulus waste — at Ritz Carlton

Members of a key panel created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus bill, have scheduled a meeting on November 22 to consider ways to prevent “fraud, waste, and abuse of Recovery Act funds.” The meeting will be held at the super-luxe Ritz Carlton Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.

The group is the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, a sub-committee of the larger Recovery Accountability and Transparency board (sometimes known as the RAT board). The stimulus bill set up the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, or RIAP, to make recommendations to identify and prevent waste of the bill's $814 billion in stimulus spending.

“The purpose of the November 22, 2010 meeting is to allow the RIAP to have an open dialogue, with input from the public, on issues relating to fraud, waste, and abuse of Recovery Act funds,” says a notice in the Federal Register. Specifically, participants in the meeting will discuss various techniques to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse, as well as larger issues of transparency and public awareness. Portions of the meeting will be open to the public, while other parts will be closed.

The Ritz-Carlton is located “in the midst of the picturesque Camelback Corridor, the city's premier shopping, dining and financial district,” according the hotel's website. Hungry waste-and-abuse hunters can dine in the “casual elegance, relaxed atmosphere and uniquely inviting ambiance of the European-inspired bistro 24.” Or they can enjoy Afternoon Tea in the “uniquely warm and inviting” Lobby Lounge. And at any time, waste-and-abuse watchdogs who also enjoy golf will be “just minutes from some of the best courses in the world,” including the Tournament Players Club, the Arizona Biltmore, and several others.

And of course, there's one other element to the story: The board is holding a meeting in Arizona, home of the immigration law that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have condemned and are challenging in court, and a state that is also the target of boycotts by a number of left-leaning groups and local governments around the country.

According to the Federal Register notice, members of the public who want to attend are instructed to send their comments to panel@ratb.gov and write “November 22, 2010 RIAP public comment” in the subject line.

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