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. Todd


    The story mentions DEMOCRAT in the first sentence. Perhaps you read what you wish to see.

    December 5, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. Liberty Queen

    Oh yeah, get rid of Baucus and get rid of the south carolina repuglican f-around mark sanderson while we're at it, and larry craig the solicitor of gay sex while sitting with his trousers dropped on a toilet and ted haggard to bible-banging hypocrite snorting coke and havin sex with a gay prostitute, and, and, and... all of them subject their wives to deadly sexually transmitted diseases.

    December 5, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Jesus Francisco

    I really don't see what the big deal is.

    December 5, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Bill

    Are these people nuts?!! Don't they know they're gonna get caught? Sure gives one a warm and comfy feeling that OUR government is in good hands. Man!

    December 5, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. ATL Guy

    Quite frankly, I don't even see why this is an issue. The woman withdrew from the nomination. End of story. It was a lapse of judgement to nominate her for the job to begin with but the end result is she did not get it. End of story.

    December 5, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Kel

    Republicans have had their fair share of scandals. Anyone heard of Nixon? What about Sanford? It has nothing to do with political idealogies. It has to do with the person's character. Period. Anyone who thinks someone is a bad person simply because of their political orientation is shallow. There are good and bad Democrats, and good and bad Republicans. Get over yourselves.

    Furthermore the point is that he nominated his girlfriend. He's not married. And neither is she. So in that respect he wasn't doing anything wrong. Why do people always assume the worst in others? If he had been having an affair it would have been listed as his "mistress" not his "girlfriend". And the affair would have been a bigger deal than this nomination.

    But it seems once they realized their relationship was no longer purely professional, they tried to correct it. (By her resigning). And she withdrew her name. So no big deal here. She seems to have a hefty resume anyways. It was poor judgment on his part, but no harm was done.

    December 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Jim

    A few points. First, this is an ethical violation. You can get apoplectic about immorality, but the point is a senator is not supposed to use position for the personal benefit of people with whom he has a close personal relationship. Two, if you believe this kind of behavior is limited to Democrats, you need to pay more attention to current events. Three, I am not sure I know anyone who has not committed immoral or unethical acts in their lives. It is humorous to see so many self-righteous people pile on politicians or golfers when they screw up. Seems to me the essence of religions like Christianity is forgiveness, not living a completely moral life. So ethical violation? Yes. Should that violation be looked into? Yes. But quit turning this into something it is not.

    December 5, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Hardlaborer

    Oh Lord, when will we rid our government of these liars and cheats who presume to tell us how to live our lives. Now this cheat, Baucus, would stand up and tell the homosexuals that marriage is a "sacred" institution reserved for a man and a woman. But my question is this, dood, was your marriage an exception to this "sacredness" test? Jine the GOP, chump. They are all liars and crooks. At least there are a few good Democrats–a few.

    December 5, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Colin L

    Hey D, CNN put his party affiliation in the first sentence: "Sen. Max Baucus’ office confirmed Saturday the Montana Democrat was..." (stop the illiteracy, D)

    December 5, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Of course, this is standard Democratic operating procedure. Change we can believe in.

    December 5, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Dennis

    Now it's time for Max to resign. Too bad he won't.

    December 5, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  12. Arlene, Illinois

    For God's sake when are we ever going to have term limits!!!!
    The people in Washington and high profile people need a kick
    in the pants.

    December 5, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. larry

    did he think no one would find out about this?

    December 5, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. max

    repugs throwing stones yet ignore Sanford and Mcstain running out on his crippled wife to married a multimillionaire ... idiots and morons

    December 5, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. difford zucher

    Am now sceptical of all the deals going on with the dems more so Baucus.He should not be trusted at all,i used to call myself a dem now i do not know where i belong.

    December 5, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Justin NutherGuy

    Nepotism and Cronyism is the middle name of the Republican party. The Bush Pyramid was famous for this. And if you didn't agree with his crazy ultra-conservative point of view, you were outed (Plame), skipped over, or forced to resign.

    December 5, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. John in Iowa

    "Just more of the immoral acts of the immoral faltering Democrats whose party will soon disappear."
    Because republicans do not commit 'immoral' acts? You sure you want to go down that road?

    December 5, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. Jon Wilhelm

    Absolutely unbelievable; and how blatant.

    December 5, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. steven harnack

    If any of these previous poseur posters had any integrity themselves they would have to admit that the Senator and his friend acted to head off any impropriety ,unlike their Republican heros who lie , obfuscate and then dig in their heels and refuse to accept any responsibility for their deeds.

    December 5, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. Bob

    lolololo the song "Say it ain't so" comes to mind

    December 5, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. SocialismBad

    "adding that their relationship was not the cause of their respective divorces." Oh REALLY??!!! I have a bridge I'd like to sell you too!

    Where has the media been in investigating this Democrat and his dirty laundry? Sarah Palin has suffered lies and unspeakable garbage about her children and the press ignores the Democrats and their very REAL transgressions. Where are all the media in digging into Charlie Rangell? Barney Frank? Chris Dodd?

    As usual the media bias in handling this sort of thing is blatantly obvious. The main street media is a joke.

    December 5, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. wheels460

    if he would have been a republican the story would have been about his boyfriend all politicians are greedy bottom feeders no matter their affiliation

    December 5, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Randy

    We don't need anymore relation in there got to much dead weight in there already

    December 5, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. American

    It is Interesting how CNN fails to identify the party when Democrats get caught in compromising situations. You'll also notice that this story was assigned to a blog and not given the type of "front page" converage a Republican in a similar situation would have received. CNN is a propaganda outlet for the Democratic National Committee.

    By the way, when will CNN report on Climategate?

    December 5, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. State of Tennessee

    Quick, CNN - time to close comments on this embarrassing news for Democrats. I would like to point out that the story of the messiah's rapidly falling approval ratings, which was so belatedly published by the CNN arm of the Obama's administration, was closed to comments after only five comments. Has anyone else noticed this common practice by CNN. Baghdad Bob would be proud of CNN for being so positive in the face of disaster.

    December 5, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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