A spokesman for Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, revealed in an emailed statement today that Baucus nominated his girlfriend for a federal prosecutor position earlier this year. Melodee Hanes was on Baucus's staff at the time, and Baucus also recommended two others for the position. In his statement, Baucus's spokesman Tyler Matsdorf explained that Ms. Hanes changed her mind about the nomination:
"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, D.C."
And then, oddly because as far as we know nobody has asked, Matsdorf pre-emptively defended the relationship itself from criticism:
"Senator Baucus is currently in a mature and happy relationship with Melodee Hanes. They are both divorced, and in no way was their relationship the cause of their respective divorces."
Well, okay then! This "scandal" doesn't seem very scandal-y, once you take into account that a total of six names were submitted to an impartial reviewer, who chose Hanes for the final three independently, and the fact that she removed herself from consideration when, apparently, the relationship became more serious. But who knows, it might be a slow news week!
Senator Baucus Recommended Girlfriend for Key Job; Aide [Washington Post]