Political Notebook

“I think the Russians have been messing with my schedule.” -- Sen. Dan Coats on Twitter

Coats: Right room, wrong hearing

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., is being ribbed by the national media for mistakenly attending a 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?” The Hill’s headline began “Oops!”

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

The Hill reported he’d been there for an hour. Coats, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was attending a hearing by its Financial Services 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 says before leaving. Coats, 70, was a member of the Senate in the 1990s and returned in 2011.

USA Today, Politico, CBS News and other media reported on the mistake.

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

By Friday morning, however, Coats’ office released a statement it said would “correct some misinformation” about how long he was in the room and briefly explain how the situation occurred. “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,” the statement said. “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.”