Washington (CNN) - Montana Sen. Max Baucus gave an employee with whom he later became romantically involved a raise of nearly $14,000 and recommended her for a U.S. attorney position, his spokesman confirmed Friday.
But spokesman Ty Matsdorf said Melodee Hanes' raise was comparable to the pay boost given to other members of the senator's senior staff at the same time – identical to his legislative director's pay bump, and less than his chief of staff's.
Hanes was paid $126,541 total for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, according to congressional records.
The former prosecutor, who currently works for the Justice Department, withdrew her nomination for U.S. attorney in March of 2009 because her relationship with Baucus was "changing and growing increasingly serious," according to an aide to the senator. The aide said the decision had been under discussion for several weeks before – though "around the same time as" - a March inquiry about the relationship from a Missoulian reporter.
Matsdorf also defended a taxpayer-funded overseas trip Baucus and Hanes had taken in 2008, telling CNN that the former state director had traveled in her official capacity, and had taken similar international trips without the senator.
Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, says the pair began a romantic relationship in the summer of 2008. Both had separated from their spouses at that point. Matsdorf confirmed that Hanes met with Baucus's divorce attorney in the summer of 2007, saying those meetings also took place in her official capacity.
"Melodee Hanes' interactions were in her official role as State Director and focused on scheduling and logistics, including how a potential separation between Senator Baucus and Wanda could impact the Senator's travel and work," he said in a statement.