Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) nominated Melodee Hanes, formerly the director of the senator’s state office for U.S. Attorney while the two were involved in a romantic relationship.
Montana Democrat Max Baucus and his former state office director Melodee Hanes began their relationship in the summer of 2008, after Baucus separated from his wife. Melodee Hanse was working for Baucus in 2002, as his state director before leaving his office earlier this year for a position in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Baucus spokesman Tyler Matsdorf full statement, from Main Justice:
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.
When Senator Baucus and Melodee Hanes, his former state director, realized that their relationship was developing beyond a purely professional nature, Melodee began the process of resigning her Senate employment.
With an extensive background as a prosecutor and extensive legal experience, Ms. Hanes submitted her name for consideration for the U.S Attorney position from Montana. Her name was one of six that was submitted for review by Senator Baucus to an independent, highly respected Montana attorney who reviewed the applications. After an extensive evaluation of all the applicants’ qualifications, Ms. Hanes was one of three applicants the third-party reviewer recommended for consideration. Senator Baucus and Senator Tester then interviewed those candidates and Senator Baucus then submitted those three names to the White House, with no ranking or preference.
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, DC.
After withdrawing from consideration for U.S. Attorney, Ms. Hanes independently applied for her current position at the Department of Justice. Having extensive experience and qualifications in the field (see resume below), Ms. Hanes was awarded the position based solely on her merit. Since then she has excelled in her role.