Baucus To Leave Office . . . And A Troubling Ethical Legacy

250px-Max_S_BaucusMontana Sen. Max Baucus (D), 67, is retiring rather than face reelection in 2014. The decision will spare a campaign that would have reignited controversies over his use of his office to benefit his live-in girlfriend. We have previously discussed the controversy. In addition to giving Melodee Hanes, 53, generous raises as a staffer, Baucus pushed to have her selected as U.S. Attorney. What is most notable about this story is that it was not ethics that pushed Baucus from office despite the documented work for his girlfriend. He was allowed to continued unimpeded despite news accounts of his work for Hanes. His success in avoiding any serious repercussions in the scandal will no doubt emboldened his colleagues in the use of their office to benefit friends and family members. The two married in 2011.

Whatever the qualifications of Hanes, it was absolutely unethical for Baucus to use his position to benefit his girlfriend.

Hanes divorced her husband of 12 years, Dr. Thomas Bennett, in December 2008. She was given a top position at the Justice Department. It is not clear if Baucus helped with that position as well.

Baucus separated from his ex-wife, Wanda, in March 2008 and moved out of their home. Hanes separated from her husband in April 2008. Baucus divorced his second wife, Wanda, in April after 25 years.

He was previously criticized for giving a huge raise to Hanes while she worked for him as a staffer.

I have previously written about the sordid state of congressional ethics. Senators have routinely used their office and connections to benefit family members. This included Sen. Jim Bunning (R, Ky) lobbying for a judgeship for his son who was viewed as “unqualified” by the ABA.

Baucus is a towering example of how ethics really does not matter in American politics. It is not clear how important the scandal would have been in this reelection fight. The message received by his colleagues however could not be more clear. You can push for high-level positions for your family and intimate friends with little concern over ethics. You are a member of the world’s most elite club and ethics are not a prerequisite. His survival from this scandal, if anything, could well make him an inspiration rather than an embarrassment for some of his colleagues.

24 thoughts on “Baucus To Leave Office . . . And A Troubling Ethical Legacy”

  1. If you are in Politics today….You probably have no ethics….

  2. Maybe he milked the graft cow for all she had, and it was just time put her to pasture.

  3. Unfortunately, there will just be another member of the duopoly more than happy to take his place and continue his legacy.

  4. Agree with Frankly. There are too many of these ethically challenged men in congress. Baucus and Melodee Haynes married in 2011. She is a highly accomplished attorney.

  5. So what are we itchinBay about here? The guy gets his girlfriend a job. Then promotes her candidacy for federal prosecutor. Wow. Really rough stuff here.
    The underlying current is that he is unmarried and has a live-in girlfriend. How terrible. Ghastly. Morally repugnant. How good of you JT to bring this to our attention.
    Hey. Get on Rubio’s case. He doesnt know that Castro came along and took Cuba in 1959 not 1956 when his parents were working for Batista and came to Florida to cut deals.
    You live in Washington DC, tell us about C Street and K Street. Somehow the lobbyists and hookers meet up. Tell us about the Log Cabin Club and all those RepubliCons who do the mano a mano thing. Tell us who is flirting with who at the Willard Hotel Bar.

    JT you live in a town full of crooks and this is all you can come up with? Some guy from Montana age 67 is porking a live in girlfriend and trying to keep her employed and now he is going to retire and you wont let it rest?
    I would hate to be your dog.

  6. Common sense, go do some homework, then come back and write about Tom Delay, David Vitter, just 2 repubs who immediately come to mind. Sadly, the ethics gene is missing in way too many of these guys, repubs and dems.,

  7. Common senseless – thank gawd the GOP has no such problems!

    Sadly, there are too many of his type in both parties who hold seats in Congress and believe they have won a golden ticket.

  8. We have nobody to blame for idiot corrupt self serving people in office than ourselves. And corruption is an equal party endeavor. So can someone please tell me why we keep putting RepoDemos and DemoRepos in office? They both stink.

  9. How about a story about the Legacy of the way Black men are treated by Connecticut Justice???


  10. We keep reelecting those people; obviously ethics are not that important to the American people.

  11. “Max Baucus is, as Alexander Cockburn once put it to me, the most corrupt Democrat in Washington. I won’t argue that.” -Joshua Frank

    April 24, 2013

    Montana Won’t Miss You

    Farewell Max Baucus



    Yesterday, Montana Senator Max Baucus announced he was set to retire at the end of his current term. As one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington he will surely leave a void, at least for the DC lobbyists that pay to play. However, as a native Montanan, I can assure you Max won’t be missed by those who have fought to keep watersheds from being pillaged for lumber, or dirty coal from being extracted and incinerated. He will, no doubt, leave the smarmy K Street crowd, heath insurance scammers and the resource extraction industry with a bit of heartache. Max Baucus is, as Alexander Cockburn once put it to me, the most corrupt Democrat in Washington. I won’t argue that. …continues

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