Sen. Baucus and his nominee for U.S. attorney for Montana

The Post features a story on Sen. Baucus’ nomination of Melodee Hanes to be U.S. attorney for Montana.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus was romantically involved with a former staffer when he recommended her earlier this year to become the next U.S. attorney for Montana, a spokesman said.

The Montana Democrat and his former state office director Melodee Hanes began their relationship in the summer of 2008 after Baucus separated from his wife, Ty Matsdorf told The Associated Press late Friday.

Roll Call reports:

Federal nepotism laws, which the Senate Ethics Committee has codified as part of the chamber’s rules, “provides a general prohibition against all Federal officials, including Members, officers, and employees of the Senate, from appointing, employing, promoting, or advancing, or recommending for appointment, employment, promotion or advancement any ‘relative’ of the official to any agency or department over which the official exercises authority or control,” according to the Senate ethics manual.

The Senate has also interpreted the law to apply to situations in which a staff member becomes a “relative” of a lawmaker, meaning that aside from standard cost of living adjustments, Members cannot give new relatives raises or promotions.

But the law’s definition of “relative” is extremely specific and generally only applies to direct relatives such as spouses and children — for instance, the nephew of a Member’s spouse would not be covered. Likewise, because Hanes is Baucus’ girlfriend and not his wife, the law would not apply.

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