December 5th, 2009
02:29 PM ET
8 months ago

Baucus admits he nominated girlfriend for U.S. Attorney

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus nominated his girlfriend for U.S. Attorney.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus nominated his girlfriend for U.S. Attorney.

Washington (CNN)— Sen. Max Baucus’ office confirmed Saturday the Montana Democrat was in a relationship with a woman he also recommended for U.S. Attorney.

According to a statement released by the senator's office, both Baucus and Melodee Hanes decided to withdraw her name for personal reasons, adding that their relationship was not the cause of their respective divorces.

"When Senator Baucus and Melodee Hanes, his former state director, realized that their relationship was developing beyond a purely professional nature, Melodee began the process of resigning her Senate employment," Ty Matsdorf, a spokesman for Sen. Baucus said in a statement. "With an extensive background as a prosecutor and extensive legal experience, Ms. Hanes submitted her name for consideration for the U.S Attorney position from Montana."

The statement, which includes a copy of Hanes' resume, shows years of political and defense experience. Her name was one of six recommended for U.S. Attorney. After "extensive evaluation," by a third party, Hanes' name was submitted as one of three to be considered for the position, it said. After further interviews by Baucus and the junior senator from the state, Jon Tester, Hanes' name was submitted to the White House along with two other top candidates, it added.

"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," Matsdorf said.

Baucus, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has been in the spotlight for his prominent role in the health care debate.

UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement about the development, saying "Max is a good friend an outstanding Senator and he has my full support."

A Democratic leadership aide defended Baucus saying, "she withdrew of her own accord and is not the nominee. There's no real issue here other than that the press likes a good story where they can use the word "girlfriend." It's doubtful that there's any ethical and certainly no legal issues."

–CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.


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soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. Ken in NC

    This would not have come to light if he had not bucked the Health Care Reform package but no he just couldn't let well enough alone. He took so much money from the Insurance companies that, like Joe Lieberman, he has to do what they tell him. Joe Lieberman, the Senator from Etna Insurance and Bacus, the Senator from Brue Cross or UHC.

    December 5, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. bob regnier

    When will we learn. Same old garbage all the time. How many politicians/celebrities have been brought down just over the last two or three years? A bunch. Yet it just doesn't stop. If only the American public had the gumption to spend ten minutes every four years in a voting booth, we could stop this. It's YOUR money that pays for this. Taxes come out of YOUR pay check. Yet we sit back waiting for someone else to solve this. The politicians are stealing from us and are very blatant about it. They know most people don't care. The first three words of the Constitition are "We the People". Apparently the politicians are not theonly ones who have forgotten this. Get up and do something (at least vote).

    December 5, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  3. Al-NY,NY

    he is not married and it looks bad but he nominated her. He did not appoint her. And if qualified, there is not so much of a problem at least with me. Better than flying to Argentina on the SC peoples' dime to get some

    December 5, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Josie

    Just another corrupt politician. Just another payback. Ever notice when CNN, ABC, CBS have the goods on a corrupt pol, if it's a Republican, the first line reads Republican [Scumbag], but if it's a Democrat, you'll never find the party the scumbag is from in the story?

    December 5, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. jim

    Well, if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vouches for his ethics, he must be real scum.

    December 5, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. Tyler

    Hannah – It says in the article that he got divorced.
    D – It says he is a Democrat in the first sentence.

    December 5, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. donna

    The senator should step aside while this is further investigated. This is an obvious ethical issue that should lead to questioning of his judgement on all the decisions he is making.

    December 5, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  8. adods

    Can some please tell me why it is unethical for a senator to issue one recommendation among many for a well qualified appointee just because she is his girlfriend? There may be extenuating circumstances but this seems "much ado about nothing."

    December 5, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Jason Dent

    So this is a party thing...PLEASE PEOPLE...if we're talking corruption lets drag out half the republicans who 'FORGOT' to mention their bribes or benefits and now got to vote in the favor of some HMO's or Financilas and now work for the same HMO's and Fiancials..Republicans made bribery into an art form...a girlfiend...wow..how sick..now if he'd just recomended mafia or someone paying the most money he'd be ok...right?

    December 5, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Independent

    It obvious where this man's priorities lie and they're not necessarily with the people that he purportedly represents. Between residing in the back pockets of special interest groups, primarily the health care industry, and now clearing the roadblocks for his girlfriend to attain a politically appointed office, Baucus has clearly demonstrated that he’s a true political insider, where the “It’s all about ME” mindset take priority over what’s best for this country and its citizens. It's past time for Baucus and many other like-minded career politicians, from both sides of the aisle, to retire.

    December 5, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. David

    God, do you people even read the stories or do you just put fingers in motion before brain wakes up? CNN said he was a Democrat, D. And no, he is not married as the story says he is divorced. I think that means he is not married.

    December 5, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Oh god. You all think Republicans don't do unethical things?

    Honestly liberals probably cheat less because they don't feel so trapped.

    December 5, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. Dude from Montana

    Who isn't Baucus sticking it to these days?

    First his "support" of the healthcare bill, now his "support " of who surely must be thevery, very best attorney in Montana.

    Baucus takes it from whomever will give it, be it the health insurance lobby, or this female perry Mason.

    This is the screwing we get for the screwing he got.

    Thanks for everything, my fellow Montanan.

    December 5, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. Keeth in California

    Hey D: Go back and read that first sentence where it says he's a Montana Democrat. "Is are children learning?" Apparently you're not.

    December 5, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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