December 5th, 2009
02:29 PM ET
9 years ago

Baucus admits he nominated girlfriend for U.S. Attorney

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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.

Filed under: Max Baucus • Popular Posts
soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. Hopeful

    Political affiliations aside, this story saddens me as we are once again forced away from the important issues and focusing on the personal lives of politicians. Don't get me wrong I feel our elected officials should most definitely be held to a high moral standard. Perhaps it's 'unfair' to place them on this pedestal and then expect them to be effective in Washington especially with the 'constant campaign' machine being used to scrutinze and destroy the other party and elect your own miscreant; who subsequently will face the same scrutiny and we begin the vicious cycle again! I am waiting for one politician to stand up and do something for the people. Geuinely for the people and not for a re-election campaign but for a higher purpose. Then of course you serve one term and get demolished in the elctions.

    To get back to this story, regardless of Ms. Hanes ability to do the job, there is a feeling of impropriety for the simple reason that a personal relationship blossomed. Her name should not have been put forward at all. I'm not buying that she was on the list and then they discovered they had feelings for one another.

    I sometimes wish this country was run by Camp Directors rather than Politicians. Genuine, salt of the earth people with communication skills, leadership skills, a sincere respect for truth and responsibility. Taking charge and care of our children has to be the most important job in the world, why not give them the job of running the country too! Many of them run multi-million dollar profit making camps yet do not live the lifestyle as it is a business of love and not ambition.

    That's my two cents. Thanks for reading.

    December 5, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. jrzshor

    we should be celebrating the senator. He was doing his job by creating jobs.


    December 5, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  3. michigander

    This Divorced senator has nominated aother attourney that he was having sex with . She also is divorced. I'd say this is troublesome in a nepatism sense but far better than spending money to fly to brazil to cheat on your wife or play footsy under a bathroom stall or have sex with hookers while prosecuting others for it.

    December 5, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. Laverne

    Sounds like CNN does not have enough to do! This story is so irrelevant to anything, the woman withdrew her name once she decided to further her relationship with Mr. Baucus. Also, neither one of them were married UNLIKE the republican married men only club.

    December 5, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Penguinn

    I guess people cannot read. It was a position for which she was totally qualified AND they withdrew her name because they realized it would be inappropriate for her to accept the job (assuming the process resulted in her being offer it), given their relationship.
    The difference in this story and most of what comes out of Washington is that they actually did the ETHICAL thing.
    Too often members of both parties let ethics take a backseat to career-bulding or monetary gain.

    December 5, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. nevada39

    He is not married..

    That just makes this a stupid mistake and not a moral high ground issue, such as say oh Sen Ensign who held himself up as a symbol of high moral values..

    The gop is full of self-righteous hypocrites with short memories, the dems are full of whiny self interest groups.

    I am a moderate conservative, not one of the gop who ate at the government trough for 8 years and now yells about spending.

    He was stupid for putting her name in, but he is a far cry from the gop guys who straight up lie about their girlfriends to the wives and us.

    Stop the hate and the attacks, makes us look stupid. Start giving ground and making suggestions to improve our country whatever party is in power.

    December 5, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. Mike

    At this point, anyone claiming this is typical of any one party or the other is just begging to be called a hypocrite.

    December 5, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Penguinn

    READ THE FIRST SENTENCE – it states he is a DEMOCRAT.
    I fear for this country.

    December 5, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. German,Irish American

    Macho Macho- Where the Bushs', Clintons' and Kennedys'? They have been run over by the Obama Chicago mafia thug machine.

    December 5, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. John F.

    This guy is a mess. If this woman was truly qualified, can't another senator nominate her? He is doing a terrible job of balancing being a Democrat and being a Montanan. And regarding CNN media bias, his being a Democrat is mentioned in the first sentence of the article.

    December 5, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. MT

    Just politics as usual for "Buttkiss".... and withdrawn only because he got caught!

    No I'm sure the affair/relationship had a positive affect on both their marriages and should feflect in no way on their character!

    We call Baucus an "all hat and no cattle cowboy" up here in Montana

    December 5, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Aaron

    As usual, the politician managed to put a spin on it. Nominates the girlfriend, gets caught, then claims they weren't hot and heavy at the time of the nomination. No doubt they both have health insurance. No funny business here?

    December 5, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    Maybe now Baucas and Chris Dodd will also sever their relationship with the health care corporations that want them to stand in the way of a meaningful public option for health insurance.
    It's also funny how this story probably could have come out any time but some think the timing is suspect. You can pretty much always say the timing is suspect, Rob.

    December 5, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. Joe D

    I guess this is typical of Washington politicians. Look at Dodd's vacation house. Look at Rangel's rental apartments. Look at favorable interest rates for many politicians for their home loans.

    Burris from IL funneled contracts to his son.

    Corruption among Washington politicians is so rampant they should all be thrown out. Most politicians should go to prison.

    Only politicians can make $300,000 per year and do nothing.

    December 5, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. johnrj08

    This is the political creature who headed the Senate Finance Committee and gave us a health care reform bill that had no public option but gave his benefactors, the insurance companies, a windfall.

    I know that politics in this country has always been corrupt, but I'm getting the feeling that corruption is at an all-time high these days. No politician is doing what's right for the country, much less their constituency. They're either acting on behalf of high-paying lobbyists or following the orders of another politician who acting on behalf of the same people.

    Max Baucus is a shining example of why the governing process in the United States Senate is broken and capable of doing nothing meaningful.

    December 5, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. billy123

    Gee I bet this story was leaked by the GOP what a shock! Now we all no the GOP loves to have another distraction.

    December 5, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. MikeH

    I guess this is the final proff proof the he really is a Republican. He infiltrated the Democrat party, tried to pretend he was a Democrat, but his fundamental and profoundly corrupt immoral nature outed him as a Republican.

    December 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. The Lady

    I really do not see anything wrong with this as long as she was qualified for the job.

    December 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. strong

    Call it what you want - cronyism, neptotism. It all stinks.

    Of course they all get away with it. How's going to stop them? Business as usual for these pigs at the trough.

    December 5, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. John A

    Baucus should step down.

    December 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Tony in Maine

    What is being ignored here is that neither are in an adulterous affair, both being single and that they withdrew her name BEFORE there was anything pushing them. Of course the Fox News crowd leap on this as the equivalent of the Ensign, Vitter, Sanford scandals. Typical Republican spin.

    December 5, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. jsamples

    Nice clean-up job CNN. Any bets the story would not have looked as pretty and non-chalant if it were a republican senator? You guys would have been all over him like white on rice.

    December 5, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  23. B

    Another corrupt Democrat.

    December 5, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. KWHodges56

    Can we say political corruption boys and girls?

    December 5, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. duckunder

    Hey Repugs, you got Ensign and Samford doing the same thing, if not worse and you call the democrats immoral. What planet do you wing nuts inhabit?

    December 5, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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