Just before waiving bon voyage to America, Former-Sen. Max Baucus cut a fat check to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Baucus donated $475,000 to the DSCC Jan. 31, three days after he admitted in his Senate confirmation hearing he is “no real expert on China.”
Baucus had $3.2 million in cash on hand in his latest FEC filing, which did not include the generous gift to the Democratic campaign committee. The donation was recorded in the DSCC’s latest filing.
It’s not unusual for lawmakers to make large donations to party committees when they retire.
However, Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the close timing between Baucus’ donation and his ascension to a coveted ambassadorship for which, by his own account, he is not qualified, looks untoward.
“Max Baucus might as well have walked up to the dais and handed the $475,000 check Bob Menendez or Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH),” Dayspring said. “It stinks so bad it makes Right Guard turn left.”
Obama may have appointed Baucus, the longtime member of the Senate Finance Committee, to be the U.S. Ambassador to China to give Democrats a head-start for a contested Senate race that may determine which party controls the Senate. Baucus, a principle architect the Obamacare law he later conceded was a “train wreck,” would have been vulnerable as an old-bull, six-term Democrat in a red state in an anti-establishment, midterm election cycle in which President Barack Obama’s ratings are slumping.
John Walsh, the Democrat who was Montana’s lieutenant governor, was appointed to the Senate to take Baucus’s place and potentially replace him permanently. That won’t be easy, though. Early polling shows that GOP Rep. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) is leading by double digits, and Republicans are hoping that Montana’s seat can be one of six they can pick up to get back control of the Senate.