Sen. Max Baucus’ girlfriend withdrew from consideration to be Montana’s U.S. attorney in March only after a newspaper told Baucus’ office it was about to publish a story on the senator’s nomination of Melodee Hanes. The revelation appears to belie Baucus’ original explanation — that Hanes withdrew “after much reflection … because [the two] wanted to live together in Washington, D.C.”
That Baucus, a Montana Democrat, recommended Hanes to the White House to be U.S. Attorney was revealed last week by Main Justice. A former Baucus staffer, Hanes explained her withdrawal in March by saying she had “been presented with other opportunities that I felt I could not bypass.”But Jodi Rave, a Missoulian reporter who was covering the story at the time, revealed over the weekend on her blog that, back in March, she had informed Baucus’s office that the paper planned to report that he had nominated Hanes. “Within what seemed like minutes,” Rave wrote on her blog, the senator’s chief of staff emailed the newsroom to say that Hanes “was NOT” a candidate.
In other words, it appears that Hanes withdrew because Baucus realized the episode might damage him publicly — rather than simply because the two wanted to live together in Washington D.C, as Baucus’s office said last week.
Politico reported today that Baucus gave Hanes a nearly $14,000 raise, while she was a staffer in his office and at the time he was becoming romantically involved with her.
And the White House has said it wasn’t told when Baucus nominated Hanes that the two were romantically involved.