U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) today released a letter he sent this week to President Barack Obama regarding federal agencies listing Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas, and other locations as "blacklisted destinations" for government meetings.
"I am asking that you direct agencies participating in such practices to end them immediately," Senator Martinez said in his letter to the President. "Any directive or guidance on federal travel policy should be based on the value to the taxpayer, not arbitrary perceptions about a specific destination."
A news report in the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday, June 17 highlighted concerns over the existence of a "blacklist" of locations to avoid holding government meetings based on public perceptions. This week's Wall Street Journal quoted Federal officials from the departments of Justice and Agriculture stating official guidance specifically prohibits travel to cities like Orlando or Miami.
"According to the Government Services Administration, Orlando has the lowest government per diem of many major meeting destinations and Orlando International Airport has among the most affordable airfares," wrote Martinez. "Despite these facts, the federal government continues to cancel meetings and events and appears to give the impression that cities like Orlando are off limits."
Senator Martinez is encouraging President Obama to issue new guidance to correct the situation and prohibit the creation or use of a list of prohibited destination cities.