Complete Senator Max Baucus statement about girlfriend Melodee Hale’s nomination for U.S. Attorney

Senator Max Baucus addresses Melodee Hanes issue with statement

Here is the complete statement issued by Montana senator Max Baucus in response to a recent story revealing he recommended his girlfriend and staff member Melodee Hanes for the vacated position of Montana U.S. attorney back in March. The list of nominations was narrowed down to three names before being submitted to the White House, but Hanes would eventually withdraw herself from consideration and take another position with the Department of Justice.

Mel and I have a wonderful relationship. We are living together and enjoying spending time with each other and our families. I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.

Mel and I were both separated from our former spouses when we got together. It wasn’t an “affair.” As we grew closer and things progressed, we knew it was time to begin the process of Mel transitioning out of my Senate office.

As a highly qualified prosecutor who tried more than 100 jury trials and as a former law professor, Mel would have been an excellent U.S. Attorney for Montana. She is widely regarded as an expert in child abuse prosecution. I for one did not want her relationship with me to disqualify her from applying for the position. I appointed an independent, third-party reviewer and established an open and fair process that resulted in 3 names being sent, unranked, to the White House for consideration.

But, in the end, we decided it would be best for Mel to withdraw her name from consideration. That also allowed us to live together in Washington, where Mel applied independently with the Department of Justice, and, not surprisingly to anyone who’s looked at her resume, got the DOJ job on her merit.

The statement is essentially the same as the one issued by Baucus spokesman Ty Matsdorf with a change from third person to first person and Melodee to Mel. (You can read the complete Ty Matsdorf statement in addition to a complete salary history for Hanes while working for the office of Senator Max Baucus HERE.)

Max Baucus is the Senate Finance Committee Chairman and an integral part of the Democratic Party’s attempt to push a healthcare reform bill through the Senate. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska didn’t seem to think the controversy would affect the debate, stating in an interview Saturday, “I don’t think it’s going to distract from the substance of the debate.”

It should be interesting to see how this plays out on the Senate floor and in the media, with the right trying to compare this to the more publicized troubles of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and complaining that the biased, liberal media is ignoring the story while Democrats boo-hoo about how the Republicans are trying to distract from the topic at hand: healthcare reform.

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