Sunday, December 06, 2009

Personal Politics and Max Baucus

The latest in politics/power/sex gossip fodder comes in the revelation that Montana's senior Senator, Max Baucus, put in the name of his girlfriend, Melodee Hanes, for consideration for a U.S. Attorney appointment. He withdrew her name earlier this year. In September, President Obama nominated Michael Cotter, a Helena attorney for the job.

The story come to surface on and was the buzz on cable television yesterday. "She was recommended for the position because of a very close and personal relationship with Max Baucus and she withdrew because of a very close and personal relationship with Max Baucus," Thomas Bennett, Hanes' ex-husband, told Main Justice. Bennett and Hanes divorced in December 2008."

Turns out the couple decided to live together in Washington, D.C. and that trumped the U.S. Attorney appointment. She is now acting Deputy Administrator for Policy in the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Hanes is the former state director for Senator Baucus in Montana. The gossipy part comes in when the couple became romantically involved. The beginning is uncertain to some guests at Baucus' son's wedding in June 2008, the dancing by the couple indicated a closer than professional relationship. Baucus and his second wife announced their divorce in April. They were married for 26 years. Both called the divorce amicable. Hanes is also now divorced. An update to the Main Justice site reports Hanes and her ex-husband were divorced in December 2008 and that the Bucus/Hanes relationship began in the summer of 2008.

The point missed is that the scandal should not be the sexual part of the affair. It is the blatant corruption of Max Baucus. Baucus is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and at the center of the legislation for health care reform. He nominated his girlfriend for a U.S. Attorney seat. He advanced the name of his girlfriend and used the elected position he himself holds as recommendation. Human beings are not perfect. The personal relationship is not the damaging aspect. The cronyism on display and the assumption of entitlement by elected officials with too many years in Washington, D.C. is the issue.

Baucus has made a career out of his Senate office. This is the problem with those who are elected and stay forever. Our founding fathers never meant for political office to be a lifetime career.

Voters in Montana - are you listening?

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