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Turns out door No. 1 was wrong way to go

Coats not even on that subcommittee

Coats

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., took a ribbing from the media Thursday night and Friday morning for mistakenly attending the hearing of a subcommittee of which he is not a member.

The headline on the Wall Street Journal’s website story on the mix-up was “Dude, Where’s My Hearing?” Headlines on the websites for CBS News, the Hill and the Indianapolis Star all began with “Oops!”

Washington Post video showed Coats questioning a witness at a Wednesday hearing when he was handed a note and responded, “I just got a note saying I’m at the wrong hearing. I’ve got the right room number, but the wrong hearing.”

Coats, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was attending a hearing by its Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. He was supposed to have been at a hearing of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.

“Well, this is the first time this has ever happened to me, but I hope it’s not a precursor of what (inaudible),” he said with a smile before leaving. Coats, 70, was a member of the Senate in the 1990s and returned in 2011.

“You’re always welcome in our committee,” subcommittee Chairman Tom Udall, D-N.M., told Coats in the video.

“Well, thank you,” Coats replied. “I saw some familiar faces, and I thought this is where I needed to be.”

As a senator who was recently banned from Russia, Coats later tweeted: “I think the Russians have been messing with my schedule.”

Many in the news media picked up on the story, including NBC News, Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune.

The Hill reported that Coats had been at the wrong hearing for an hour. But Matt Lahr, communications director for Coats, released a statement Friday that he said would “correct some misinformation about how long he was in the room and briefly explain how the situation occurred.”

Lahr wrote: “The senator had a busy day of dashing between votes, hearings and meetings with Hoosiers. Since his Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies hearing was already underway, he tried to enter through a back entrance, but he accidentally took the wrong door. After reviewing his notes for 3-5 minutes, he was called on and the unfortunate moment occurred. Coats realized his mistake and immediately went to the correct room, where he questioned the appropriate witness.”

The subject line for Lahr’s emailed statement: “A funny thing happened on the way to the hearing.”

bfrancisco@jg.net

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