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Update, Sunday, Dec. 6: Democratic senators rallied behind Baucus over the weekend, asserting there would be "no distraction" in the healthcare debate. Republican response was relatively muted, though some called for an ethics committee investigation. Baucus told reporters he had done nothing wrong and had gone "out of my way to be on the up and up." In a revelation that could taint Montana's senior Senator at a pivotal moment in his long career, Senator Max Baucus' office disclosed late Friday that he had recommended long-time staffer and recent girlfriend Melodee Hanes for the job of U.S. Attorney for Montana. She later withdrew from consideration because the two had decided to move in together in Washington. Hanes and Baucus both recently divorced their spouses. The statement from Baucus spokesman Ty Matsdorf said "in no way was their relationship the cause of their respective divorces." Hanes, an attorney, was state director for Baucus and now works at the Justice Department. She was one of three people Baucus recommended to President Obama for the job of U.S. Attorney for Montana, and the statement asserted that the recommendation was solely on merit. The story was first reported by Main Justice, which covers the Justice Department.

Baucus Nominated Girlfriend for Montana U.S. Attorney Post

Update, Sunday, Dec. 6: Democratic senators rallied behind Baucus over the weekend, asserting there would be “no distraction” in the healthcare debate. Republican response was relatively muted, though some called for an ethics committee investigation. Baucus told reporters he had done nothing wrong and had gone “out of my way to be on the up and up.”

In a revelation that could taint Montana’s senior Senator at a pivotal moment in his long career, Senator Max Baucus’ office disclosed late Friday that he had recommended long-time staffer and recent girlfriend Melodee Hanes for the job of U.S. Attorney for Montana. She later withdrew from consideration because the two had decided to move in together in Washington.

Hanes and Baucus both recently divorced their spouses. The statement from Baucus spokesman Ty Matsdorf said “in no way was their relationship the cause of their respective divorces.” Hanes, an attorney, was state director for Baucus and now works at the Justice Department. She was one of three people Baucus recommended to President Obama for the job of U.S. Attorney for Montana, and the statement asserted that the recommendation was based solely on merit.

The story was first reported by Main Justice, which covers the Justice Department.

Despite Baucus’ contention that there was nothing improper in his actions and that Hanes was well-qualified for the post, the situation is likely to spur calls for a Senate ethics committee inquiry, noted Politico.

The discloure comes at a time when Baucus’ profile has never been higher, due to his central role in shaping healthcare legislation. That legislation is now before the full Senate, and Baucus, the Finance Committee chair, is a key player in the dealing that will likely be necessary to get the bill passed.

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16 comments

  1. Not a surprise. Its all in the family.

  2. AP story this a.m. included, re: Baucus:
    “He seems to take the position that the state that sent him to the Senate for five terms is fundamentally conservative and its voters want someone willing to base votes on more than party lines.”

    But we chose him instead? Maybe he thinks Massachusetts or Hollywood sent him to Congress, not Montana?

  3. So what have her odd sexual interests to do with her abilities as director of his Montana office–or as U. S. Attorney for his state?
    Baucus is a dreary Democrat–what other kinds of politicians are there–or have there ever been–from Montana?; but its hard to say that has anything to do with sex…

  4. This has nothing to do with sexual interests of any individual.
    She may be very capable as a political director and in many other fields of endeavor. She had not practiced law for 6 years; those in the prosecutorial profession would know if that gap may cause a lack of currency in the background needed to be an effective U.S. Attorney – perhaps it is just a managerial role held by an attorney, not an active legal position.

    Many people have family and marital problems, so that is not the issue, either – it doesn’t necessarily make them bad or incompetent people.

    The issue revolves around ethics and values.

  5. “The issue revolves around ethics and values.”

    Perhaps you could explain the bases–in fact–in either case?

  6. I don’t understand why some many Americans are obsessed with corruption in Afghanistan when we have plenty of endemic corruption built into our own system in the good old U.S. of A. So what else is new? I want to see Melodee naked in Playboy. I’m looking forward to seeing God fearing Governor Sanford’s mistress Maria naked in Playboy to! Yee! Hah! Ride em cowboy!

  7. Community Ethics:
    1. Person on payroll of another is recommended for higher position. Not a problem, assuming qualifications (and who would know better than the current boss?); except,
    2. Person is in a “relationship” with the boss (whether related, girlfriend, mistress – matters not) and is recommended for higher position in the same organization (Federal government in this case). The result is a potential conflict of interest. Even the appearance of a conflict is damaging to the “boss”. Transparancy, full disclosure, full vetting is the minimum requirement.
    3. Ethics is not just conformance to law.

    Values:
    1. One or both parties still married when a personal relationship between an employer and an employee commences. Even if one of the marriages involves a separation or estrangement, until divorce is final a contract has been breached – the marriage contract/vows. Taking the story on face value, that the relationship did not commence until either both were “separated” or one was divorced and the other still married, this shows a great values challenges on the part of both participants.
    2. One or both parties still married when the two in the new relationship move in together? A confirmation of degradation/dismissal of values held by the person claiming to represent a “mostly conservative” constitutency (actually true with “mostly liberal” constituencies as well.

    Same-party folks of the elected representative rally to back him, to avoid distraction from key legislation.

    Sounds like the “other” Party! Wrong on either side of the aisle.

    Now, if the originally posted story in NewWest was wrong (stated that he was still married when the relationship began and when they moved in together), they need to not merely “update”, but print a correction notice!

    What’s wrong for one elected representative is wrong for all, regardless of party or where they fall on the vote on a key issue.

    Sounds like a lot of re-election campaigns are shooting for innovation: “Ethics and Values: We Don’t Need Them and You Don’t Either”?

  8. Nepotism, definition: Favoritism shown to relatives or close friends by those with power or influence. Whoever you’re sleeping with at the moment would probably be considered a relative or close friend. Here in Idaho, we have a state senator who is convalescing from brain cancer appointing his wife to fill his seat temporarily until he is able to return to his duties which is not unheard of in the political world. If this kind of Nepotism is OK, then appointing your Mistress or your ex-lover ought to be OK to. Or not?

  9. Chaos, the story never said they were still married when the relationship began. The story above is the original story, it was not changed, just the brief update added at the top.

  10. Jonathan,
    Thanks for that correction – I was going by a number of other links and sites that maybe shouldn’t be fully trusted. Taking the “after divorce” start of the relationship, then we’re down to ethics and values problems related to very close and now “live-in” “relationships”? I hope it works out for them. In the meanwhile, in public affairs (either definition), there is still an ethics and values problem, just not adultery in re a marriage or two.

  11. A Position for a Submission

    There was an old Senator named Baucus,
    Who’s late midlife behavior got raucous,
    All the girls on his staff
    Would often whisper and laugh,
    When he’d invite them to bed for a caucus.

    Soon Max saw what blind men can see,
    The fact that old guys don’t get it for free
    If you want to impress ’em
    So that you can undress ’em
    Tell her you’ll make her the U.S. Attorney!

    When the press learned about Max’s scheme,
    They decided to play on his team,
    So they kept the story quiet,
    ‘Til Max couldn’t deny it,
    Then the hypocrites started to scream.

    They pretended that they didn’t know
    That Max left his wife for a pro,
    But they’d known for a year,
    And soon Montana would hear,
    They were shacked up in Max’s chateau!

    So the next time you do something rash,
    And you don’t want your dentures to gnash,
    Remember – the Senator who gets lecherous,
    Causes the press to get treacherous,
    So don’t pay with a job, just use cash!

    Poetically Yours,

    Charles Ulysses Feney
    Livingston

  12. Boy, that ole Max is card, no? Boinkin’ his help, and then attempting to get the soiled dove a job as the US Attorney for Montana. Does that ever speak to his fondness for the female plight, or what? Max, the Feminist’s Friend.

    Will every woman who wants an appointment to a Federal job in Montana have to bed the good Senator to be considered? Hee-Haw….why that ole Max is a real ole billy goat.

    But you are known by the company you keep. Ole Max showed us what kinda whore he is when he rigged the Farm Bill last fall to give Weyerhaeuser a one time $178 million dollar tax break, so he could get their permission to assist Plum Creek in selling some 350,000 acres of their land so PCT could make REIT payments to geriatric stockholders. So the whole deal only is costing tax payers a $Billion dollars over time, and Max is back on the street looking for more tricks to turn on health care. That pore old gal shouldn’t be teetering along on her high heels behind him, ’cause he might fall off those platform shoes and break his patootie and hers in the process. And maybe already has.

  13. Pretty funny, guys.

  14. Funny would be if her ex-husband got a sympathy card from Larry Craig.

  15. Oh yea! Idaho’s very own “conservative” broke back cowboy who rode off into the sunset on a public toilet seat to make millions as a lobbyist. Its hard to understand why some real cowboys still admire the guy.

  16. Always interesting to hear abortion survivors talk. Maybe our runaway technology will find a way to have responses from those who do not survive abortion. A fetus phone. Blogs from the blobs. Surely with a world of ways to prevent conception, you would think by this time and age, the “blame” for inconvenient conception would be placed on the pair that copulated the spark to life, not society as a whole. But, when in this world of irresponsibility do we require that a person who is able must take care of his or her self, and the results of their participation in life?