NRSC - Concord Monitor: Hodes still mum on 'scheduling conflict'

Hodes still mum on ‘scheduling conflict’

Concord Monitor

By Ben Leubsdorf

August 5, 2010

U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes isn't saying where he was two weeks ago when he missed a vote to extend unemployment benefits for Americans who had been out of work for six months or longer.

Hodes, a Democrat running for the Senate seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, said he had a "scheduling conflict" on July 22, when the benefits extension came before the House of Representatives. His campaign declined to give details last week.

"I had a scheduling conflict and wasn't able to be at the vote. I had a pre-arranged out-of-state trip," Hodes said yesterday at a news conference in Concord on lobbying reform. "My position on unemployment benefits is well-known. I've voted repeatedly before this vote to extend unemployment benefits. . . . Sometimes, unfortunately, scheduling conflicts occur. It occurred in this case."

Hodes declined to say where the trip was. "The trip was out of state," he said.

He was scheduled to appear at Netroots Nation, a liberal bloggers convention, in Las Vegas the day after the vote.

Hodes had criticized Republicans for holding up the benefits extension. The campaign of former state attorney general Kelly Ayotte, a Republican rival for the Senate seat, dinged Hodes for missing the vote.

Hodes was one of nine House members to miss the vote. Fellow New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter voted for the extension, which passed the House, 272-152. The legislation had been delayed in the Senate but was signed by President Obama the same day it passed the House.