Max Baucus was having an affair with a woman he recommended for US attorney last year, the senator's office admitted last night after Roll Call reported the apparent lapse. Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and former state office director Melodee Hanes began their relationship in the summer of 2008, after Baucus separated from his wife. Hanes, who is divorced, now lives with Baucus.
Her name was one of six Baucus submitted for review. Three names, including Hanes, were sent on to the White House without ranking. Baucus and Hanes decided during the nomination process that she should withdraw, said his spokesman, when they decided to live together. Hanes started working for Baucus in 2002 and was his state director before leaving his office last spring for a position in the Justice Department. She got that position based solely on her merit, a Baucus spokesman said.