December 5th, 2009
02:29 PM ET
3 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. Amy, Kazoo

    D- read the article much? Perhaps the first sentence? nice try though.

    This happens on both sides. If you think the party on the other side of the line is worse than the one you align yourself with, you're an idiot. The reason these politicians even THINK they can do things like this is because the American people do not hold them accountable. I mean really, "Texas Longhorn talks Truth" at least this guy was officially separated. Can't say the same for Gov of South Carolina, Larry Craig, etc etc. This behavior exists on both sides of the line.

    December 5, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Jacob, Nashville, TN

    If this man were a prominent doctor working in hospitals every day it would not be unreasonable to think he may become involved with a woman who may be a hospital administrator. If he were a construction worker he may be involved with someone in a similar field. Why then, since he is a Senator, is it suprising that he meets a woman who, through third party determination, is actually qualified for a different senior political position? Looking at the education of these two individuals, and their experience in law and politics, I find it humorous that every other person in this thread thus far imagines that something currupt must be happening. Even as a republican myself I must default to the fundamental precept that when all things are considered equally the simplest answer tends to be the correct one. Here, my assumption that she simply was a qualified person for this job is by far the most realistic.

    December 5, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Nellie Bly

    She certainly seems qualified but when you're in a relationship, you have to avoid all appearances of impropriety and this didn't.

    December 5, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Jim

    Republicans are seriously criticizing Democrats for being immoral? That is worse than the pot calling the kettle black. It wasn't the Democrats that brought this out, it was the health insurance companies.

    December 5, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. wendell

    typical politician.

    December 5, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. Patsy, Texas

    "Texas Longhorn talks Truth" needs to tell the whole truth, or at
    least be able to recognize that both sides of the aisle do stupid
    things. Need I list the immoral Republicans for you?

    December 5, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. santa

    congress "men" whats new! no doubt max will not suffer at the polls. people wake up!!! he and his republican brothes buy enough favorable/hacks back home to stay in office as long as they deliver the pork. it is time to limit term limits. PS! the best thing we can do is send more Women to congress. Let's do it.

    December 5, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. Gale

    It seems as all politicians (Republicans AND Democrats) have no morals what so ever. If they cheat on the person they are suppose to love the most in the world, what would they do to their constituents? I think they should all be held accountable for everything they do morally wrong, and quit sweeping it under the rug.

    December 5, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. samuel

    if you can curb a politicians libido then u can pass a health care bill easily.... folks these two things are tough...

    December 5, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. ruhroh

    Anyone, ANYONE that votes an incumbent of any stripe back into office for the next few elections cycles has no room to complain. Washington is a festering boil and until the infection is removed we will continue to get the government we deserve. I know what we have now. I would rather take a chance on a complete unknown than continue the cycle of corruption in place right now. Vote them out!!!!!!

    December 5, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. samuel

    show me a politician and i will show u someone with a great libido... folks if you have ED PROBLEMS RUN FOR OFFICE AND YOU WILL BE JUST FINE.

    December 5, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. BRIAN

    D take a moment to read the whole article (says Montana democrate at the start).As for those who say democrates immoral maybe they should goggle Republican SEN Ensign,both sides have issues so stop the whinning.

    December 5, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. Palermo

    With all the political scandals of late, who in their right mind would do this and think it wouldn't get into the press. We need term limits (ONE term) and an end to career politicians.

    December 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Ryan

    D, what? First paragraph: "Sen. Max Baucus’ office confirmed Saturday the Montana Democrat was in a relationship with a woman he also recommended for U.S. Attorney."

    How is that hiding his party affiliation again?

    December 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    I'd say that's the "Blue Dog" in him showing through ...

    December 5, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. Grrr

    This headline is a lie. Nothing inappropriate was done. He didn't nominate anyone, he was asked for recommendations on existing candidates. She withdrew her nomination due to their relationship, which wasn't even really a conflict of interest when you think about it.
    What a bs sensationalist pile.

    December 5, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. Scot

    We need to change this broken system of government we have.
    Money, nepotism, arrogance, cronyism. Third political force is needed
    badly to restore power to the American people . Use our voting power to say enough !

    December 5, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. Terry from West Texas

    I am a Liberal and I vote Democrat or third party depending on the race in question. Sen. Baucus has been in politics for 35 years, in Washington for 30 years, and in the Senate for 25 years. If I know that this is inappropriate behavior, I'm certain that he knows too.

    I propose a policy of zero tolerance for hanky-panky in the Senate, the House, and the Executive branch. If you sleep with someone, you cannot try to get him or her a better job with the government. You cannot accept any favor of any kind, from a cup of coffee to a free trip to Paris. You cannot meet socially with lobbyists; you should meet with them only in your office during normal business hours. You cannot hire relatives or friends. And you cannot say, after 35 years in elected office, that you didn't know you were doing anything wrong. Off with his head!

    December 5, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. PulTab

    Hey D,

    Do you have reading comprehension issues? Look at the first paragraph of the story again and see if you get it this time.

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

    December 5, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Breath of Heaven Lighten Our Darkness, pour your Holy over us

    Bacus should have removed himself from ANY decision making in this process...what a bum...ruining her career ..for what..a night in the sack! So sad!

    December 5, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  21. Jim

    It's somewhat silly to say these kinds of unethical actions are attributable to only Democrats or only Republicans. Seems to me I have seen senators from both parties and governors from both parties commit unethical actions.

    December 5, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. Rumsfeld

    Nepotism sucks.

    December 5, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Jack Walden

    So Government job is good for girlfriend while Government healtcare is bad for rest. Only in America!

    December 5, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. Rumsfeld

    "D" can't read. Must be a GOP'r.

    December 5, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. matt blanc

    I met Baucus a few years back, and his staff. Totally empty suits, all of them. The senator has no concept of anything other than helping his buddies back in Montana. Unfortunately his insurance company backers have dictated his policy on health care and everyone loses – except him and his little group of friends.

    December 5, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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