A television news crew used a hidden camera to record the closing minutes of a two-day training workshop held earlier this month by the U.S. Social Security Administration—a meeting that was later presented as an example of wasteful U.S. government spending, MeetingsNet has learned.
The meeting, held at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa for roughly 700 front-line managers and supervisors, has drawn media scorn and may have a further chilling effect on resort destinations’ meetings business.
“When this reporter with a hidden camera came into the room, it was the last 30 minutes of the last day of a two-day conference,” said Mark Lassiter, media officer with SSA. “He came in right at the end of the two-day session. He didn’t see or attempt to view any of the substantive training that went on.”
According to the published program, the last-half day of the meeting began with a series of concurrent workshops at 8 a.m., followed by a 90-minute panel discussion with senior SSA executives. The last hour included a segment with an “inspirational, motivational dance company,” Lassiter said, consisting of “people who were both able and disabled.”
But it was the stretch break that made the evening news. “That’s what was captured on video,” Lassiter said, but “it does not in any way, shape, or form characterize the substance of the training that went on for two days. It was very misleading and very unfortunate.”
Days after the report on the SSA meeting, The Wall Street Journal identified several U.S. government departments that are discouraging meetings in high-profile resort destinations like Orlando and Las Vegas, while favoring cities like Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, Phoenix, St. Louis, Washington, and Portland, Ore.