Senator Max Baucus, chair of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, nominated his girlfriend earlier this year for a post of U.S. attorney in Montana, his spokesman admitted today.
In an e-mailed statement, spokesman Tyler Matsdorf commented on the recommendation of Melodee Hanes by Baucus for the position:
“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..”
Sen. Baucus’ profile was raised earlier this year during the healthcare reform debate. Baucus was a key player in the debate, but was accused of exempting advocates of a single-payer system from proceedings and favoring those who made contributions to his campaign. Baucus was also criticized for his close ties to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, as well as for proposing financial penalties for those who cannot afford health coverage.