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Reports: Baucus Didn’t Reveal Relationship During U.S. Attorney Vetting
Posted By Andrew Ramonas On December 7, 2009 @ 3:00 pm In News | Comments Disabled
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) didn’t tell White House or Justice Department officials involved in the Montana U.S. Attorney selection process that he was in a personal relationship with one of the candidates he’d recommended, according  to news reports over the weekend.
Montana’s senior senator didn’t reveal his relationship with Melodee Hanes to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) or to Dana Christensen, a Kalispell, Mont., lawyer who screened six candidates for the post, according  to the Wall Street Journal.
“I’ve known Max a long time. I’ve known Mel Hanes a long time. But I did not know that they had a relationship,” Christensen told the Wall Street Journal.
What isn’t known is whether Baucus’s former chief of staff, Jim Messina, was aware of the relationship. Messina is a White House deputy chief of staff. Messina and White House spokesman, Ben LaBolt, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
We were the first to report  Friday that Hanes withdrew earlier this year as a finalist for Montana U.S. Attorney to live with the senator in Washington.
Hanes, who worked on Baucus’ Senate staff from 2003 to June 2009, is now a political appointee at the Justice Department, serving as acting Deputy Administrator for Policy in the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The DOJ office supports research, training and programs for juvenile justice programs throughout the country.
Hanes was one of six Montana U.S. Attorney candidates who Baucus forwarded to Christensen for review. Christensen then narrowed the list down to three candidates: Hanes; Mike Wheat, a Bozeman, Mont., lawyer; and Michael Cotter, who has since been nominated  for Montana U.S. Attorney. Baucus and Tester then reviewed the three finalists and sent them to the White House for final consideration.
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