Records help flesh out details on Baucus' relationship with staffer
Reporters have been finding interesting things over the past week in LegiStorm's database about the relationship Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) had with a political aide.
Baucus began facing questions over his relationship with Melodee Hanes when it was revealed that he had nominated her for the job of U.S. Attorney in Montana at around the same time their relationship was becoming romantic. Hanes reportedly withdrew from consideration for the job one day after the Missoulian newspaper contacted Baucus to ask him about his relationship with Hanes and his decision to nominate her for the post.
This morning, Politico reports that Baucus gave Hanes a raise of nearly $14,000 around the time he says that their relationship was becoming romantic. The raise came during the period between April 1, 2008 and September 1, 2008. Baucus has said that his relationship with Hanes began to extend beyond a purely professional one in the summer of 2008. Hanes had been serving as state director and senior counsel to Baucus. Through a spokesman, Baucus has pointed out that Hanes' salary increase was in line with raises doled out to the rest of the office: "Hanes' salary increased by the exact same amount as our legislative director and less than our chief of staff." Salary records for Baucus' office, including hers, can be viewed here.
In late 2009, Hanes accompanied the senator abroad on a trip to Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates. The trip, funded by taxpayers, cost around $14,000 per person, and was Hanes' only official trip abroad in her six years on Capitol Hill. Although Hanes had no particular foreign policy experience, Baucus' office said the trip was appropriate, noting that previous state directors had traveled overseas. At this time, LegiStorm shows only privately financed trips on its site, so this is not one of them.
In 2009, Hanes left Baucus' office and went to work for the Justice Department, earning $120,000-$150,000 a year, according to the financial disclosure she filed.