Real trouble for Senator Max Baucus: Recommended that his secret girl friend at the time be US Attorney for Montana
Max Baucus, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, recommended that the White House nominate his girlfriend as a U.S. attorney in Montana, his office announced late Friday night.
Earlier this year, Baucus recommended that the White House consider Melodee Hanes and two other names for the U.S. attorney post – at the same time that the senator was carrying on a romantic relationship with Hanes, who had been his state director. Baucus was separated with his wife at the time when the two began their involvement, according to a source familiar with the situation, and now the two are divorced from their spouses and live together on Capitol Hill.
Baucus’ office contends that Hanes was recommended because of her qualifications – and that the relationship had nothing to do with her nomination to the position or their respective divorces from their spouses.
“While her personal relationship with Senator Baucus should in no way be either a qualifier or a disqualifier for the position, during the nomination process and after much reflection, both Senator Baucus and Ms. Hanes agreed that she should withdraw her name from consideration because they wanted to live together in Washington, DC,” Ty Matsdorf, Baucus’ spokesman, said in a statement. . . .
And despite Baucus’ office contention that nothing was improper about his recommendation, it will almost certainly spark calls for Ethics Committee inquiries given the appearance that Baucus was assisting his girlfriend secure a top spot as a prosecutor in the Obama administration. To combat that criticism, Baucus’ office released Hanes’ lengthy resume Friday night, portraying her as a highly educated and well-versed attorney in prosecutorial issues – as well as detailing a long list of community service activities. . . .
UPDATE: Things look even worse for Baucus.
Jodi Rave, a former reporter for the Missoulian revealed over the weekend that the paper informed Baucus in March that it was poised to publish a story about Hanes’s relationship with the senator and the fact that he had nominated her for the U.S. attorney job.
The next day, Hanes withdrew from consideration. According to the Missoulian, Baucus’s office never acknowledged a relationship between the two, and the paper did not run a story. . . .
Baucus also apparently gave his girl friend a large raise right when he was starting to get romantically involved with her.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, gave a nearly $14,000 pay raise to a female staffer in 2008, at the time he was becoming romantically involved with her, and later that year took her on a taxpayer-funded trip to Southeast Asia and the Middle East, though foreign policy was not her specialty. . . .