Baucus Sought US Attorney Job for Girlfriend

This seems like Max Baucus shot himself in the foot and then dodged the bullet:

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ office confirmed late Friday night that the Montana Democrat was carrying on an affair with his state office director, Melodee Hanes, when he nominated her to be U.S. attorney in Montana. […] Hanes, who is divorced and now lives with Baucus in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Washington, D.C., ultimately withdrew her name from consideration for the U.S. attorney position in order to move to Washington, and she now works in the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as a counselor to the administrator.

That’s a nice use of the Friday news dump. And while the behavior certainly seems unethical, since Hanes didn’t get the US Attorney job, there’s not much to be done.

A larger point here is that the tradition of senatorial control over US Attorney appointments is fairly problematic. Appointing your mistress is generally frowned upon, but appointing your political allies is par for the course. And yet, the US Attorney’s office is supposed to oversee public integrity investigations. One thing the Blago investigation has certainly made me think of is how bad would other politicians’ fundraising activities sound if they were being bugged by the FBI? Which isn’t to say we should go around bugging politicians’ phones at random, but it is smart to see these corruption issues thoroughly investigated. And that’s undermined by so closely linking the key prosecutors to local political bigwigs.