Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has admitted that he was romantically involved with a former staffer when he recommended her earlier this year to become the next U.S. attorney for Montana. Baucus only recently separated from his second wife, Ty Matsdorf, and had a romantic relationship with his former staffer Melodee Hanes starting in the summer of 2008. He nominated her for the appointment in March but they later agreed to withdraw the nomination when they moved into the same house.
The Montana Democrat insists that his relationship with his girlfriend had nothing to do with his decision, even though he did not reveal the personal relationship at the time. This would seem a basic ethical requirement if you are going to push your girlfriend for a high appointment. I also fail to see why Hanes was one of the best candidates for this position.
Her background is not without experience but would not naturally make her a candidate for the top federal prosecutor position. A graduate of Drake, she did work as a prosecutor with the Yellowstone County Attorney’s office for three years from 1999 to 2002. She also served as a prosecutor from 1986 to 1998 for the Polk County Attorney’s Office, Des Moines, IA. To her credit, that is a good deal of litigation experience, though it is not in the federal system. The question is whether such experience would make her a natural choice for the top spot in the state. She also spent a few years in private practice after law school.
This is her resume: Hanes-resume
You can also download her cv at the DOJ site, click here.
However, his spokesman insisted “Senator Baucus recommended each of the three candidates based solely on qualifications, and merit, knowing whichever one the White House selected would serve Montana well.”
Hanes began working for Baucus in 2002 and left his office for the Justice Department earlier this year.
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