Hanes’ new job at the DOJ comes on the heels of a brewing scandal concerning her nomination for U.S. Attorney for Montana. Senator Baucus had submitted Hanes’ name for the U.S. Attorney position after “extensive evaluation” by a third party and consultation with Montana’s other senator, Jon Tester. However, Baucus reportedly did not inform White House or DOJ officials that Hanes was his girlfriend.
Hanes later withdrew from the nomination after reports of her relationship with Baucus became public. “While her per-sonal 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.,” said Ty Matsdorf, a spokesperson for Baucus.
In June 2009, Hanes was hired by the DOJ as acting Deputy Administrator for Policy in the agency’s Office of Juve-nile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Hannah August, a DOJ spokesperson, said Hanes was hired based on her qualifications. She has “decades of experience in the field,” August observed.
A statement released by Senator Baucus said he was not involved in Hanes’ hiring at the DOJ. “Mel applied inde-pendently with the Department of Justice, and, not surprisingly to anyone who’d looked at her resume, got the DOJ job on her merit.” The senator also objected to reports that he had an affair, saying he was separated from his wife when he and Hanes, who had worked as his state director, became romantically involved.
The Republican National Committee has called for a Senate ethics investigation into Hanes’ DOJ appointment, ques-tioning whether Baucus had used “his Senate office to advance a taxpayer-funded appointment for his staff-member girl-friend.” The situation “raises a whole host of ethical questions,” the Committee noted.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement supporting Baucus. “Max is a good friend, an outstanding senator and he has my full support,” Reid said.
Coincidentally, another acquaintance of Senator Baucus also holds a position with the Dept. of Justice. Stephanie Denton Baucus, the senator’s daughter-in-law, is associate director of the DOJ’s Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison, which coordinates the agency’s activities with state and local authorities. She is married to Zeno Baucus, the senator’s son. Stephanie Baucus began working for the DOJ in June 2009 – the same time that Hanes was hired.
Sources: Associated Press, CNN, www.mainjustice.com, www.nydailynews.com
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