As many readers know by now, on Dec 5th, Senator Max Baucus( D-MT) , the man entrusted with writing the govt. takeover bill of the American healthcare system, was forced to disclose the embarrassing fact that he had nominated his live-in girlfriend as the next U.S. Attorney for his home state of Montana. Senator Baucus did not disclose this fact out of some good-natured rationale; rather a political watchdog group had discovered the link, and the information was coming public, so he tried to get ahead of the story.
Understandably, the Republican Party among others are calling for an investigation into what seems to be clear conflict of interest in his dealings and a serious lapse of judgment. Considering his current girlfriend Melodee Hanes started working in Senator Baucus’ office as early as 2002, and the divorce to his current wife was not announced until early 2009, it would seem to be more than just a possible legal and political transgression he was making with Ms. Hanes.
But after researching Senator Baucus’s friends and family, it becomes clear that it is very good to be a friend, family member, or f*!k buddy to the Senator. Let’s look at his only son Zeno, for instance.
Zeno Baucus is currently a Managing Associate at the Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe Law Firm in Washington, DC, just a stone’s throw away from where daddy works. (You can read his bio here.)
Since Zeno’s dad is the head of the Senate Finance Committee, it is interesting to note that his Zeno specializes “in complex civil litigation, regulatory investigations, securities enforcement and litigation, antitrust matters, and corporate criminal defense. He has successfully argued in federal court motion hearings” (www.orrick.com)
But that’s not all, it seems Zeno has all sorts of interactions with his Dad’s Federal Government. Zeno’s corporate bio further states that he:
…negotiated with federal regulators, coordinated defense efforts in multiple defendant matters and….. has represented individual and corporate clients in federal and state litigation, private arbitrations and investigations before the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.
Zeno also seems to have expertise in several business sectors: “He has counseled and defended clients from various industries, including…..pharmaceutical corporations…and financial firms……..”
Which probably comes in handy, because most of his dad’s Max’s top donors are… drum roll… pharmaceutical and financial firms.
What is also interesting about Zeno’s firm Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe are their political contributions from 1979 to 2008. By far the biggest recipient of money from the firm is , shockingly, our current President Barack Obama, and all of the recipients Democrats.
I don’t know about you, but if my pharmaceutical or financial company was having a run-in with Uncle Sam, Zeno Baucus would be on speed dial. I pay for a junior lawyer and I get the Head of the Senate Finance Committee and the President in my pocket for free.
Contributions from employees of Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp:
Political contributions disclosed by campaign committees to the Federal Election Commission, sorted by employer. The data, from the FEC, covers the years 1979 through 2008.
- $24,385 from 36 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employees (25.5%) to Barack Obama
- $15,750 from 19 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employees (13.5%) to John Kerry
- $6,300 from 4 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employees (2.8%) to Hillary Clinton
- $5,450 from 4 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employees (2.8%) to Benjamin Cardin
- $4,600 from 2 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employees (1.4%) to Christopher Van Hollen
- $1,819 from 4 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employees (2.8%) to Allyson Schwartz
- $1,500 from 3 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employees (2.1%) to Gerald McNerney
- $1,000 from 1 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employee (0.7%) to John McCain
- $500 from 1 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employee (0.7%) to Edward Markey
- $500 from 2 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employees (1.4%) to Max Baucus
- $500 from 1 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employee (0.7%) to Evan Bayh
- $500 from 1 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employee (0.7%) to Richard Gephardt
- $500 from 1 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employee (0.7%) to Tim Johnson
- $300 from 1 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employee (0.7%) to Barney Frank
- $300 from 1 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employee (0.7%) to Paul Hodes
- $250 from 1 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employee (0.7%) to Sherrod Brown
- $250 from 1 Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe Llp employee (0.7%) to Joseph Lieberman
Well if you are not a Baucus by birth, but still want the perks, then don’t despair; you could marry into the family, as Stephanie Denton Baucus nee; Stephanie Denton did recently in June 2008.
She too is a Washington DC lawyer who was working for the boutique firm Kirstein and Young whose practice seems to be based on getting their clients government contract sand helping them to navigate the legislative terrain. But Stephanie didn’t have to gut it out there for much longer, because just 12 short months after becoming a Baucus. Stephanie Denton Baucus is:
Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison, U.S. Dept. of Justice
(Government Relations industry), June 2009 — Present (7 months).
So what ever happened to Senator Baucus Girlfriend: Melodee Hanes.
Senator Baucus claims that after the relationship intensified, Melodee pulled herself from consideration in the Attorney job. But don’t shed any tears just yet, because almost immediately after pulling her name from the Attorney job, live-in girlfriend Melodee Hanes became a …drumroll… “political appointee at the Justice Department,” per DOJ spokesperson Tracy Schmaler (main justice) or more precisely she is now the Deputy Administrator for Policy in the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
It may be easy to assume that cronyism is involved but we can be assured that:
“Both the Justice Department and Baucus issued statements Saturday stressing that Melodee Hanes, who had been the senator’s state director and one of Baucus’s recommendations for Montana U.S. Attorney, was hired for her qualifications.” Main Justice… and Senator Baucus himself stated: “Mel applied independently with the Department of Justice, and, not surprisingly to anyone who’s looked at her resume, got the DOJ job on her merit.”
So what is a “political appointee”? Who does the appointing, and is the hiring practice as most people understand I a “hiring practice” to be?
according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (Main Justice):
Justice spokeswoman Schmaler wasn’t immediately able to say what type of political appointment Hanes received. Executive branch standards for hiring and retaining political appointees vary. Some political appointees can be hired without using “traditional competitive hiring procedures…”
Ahh, those pesky “traditional competitive hiring practices” get me every time.
Well, whatever the case may be, it’s nice to know that Senator Baucus’ daughter-in-law and his live-in girlfriend can eat lunch together at the same DOJ cafeteria, right down the street from their main-man Max on the Senate Finance Committee, just a 9-iron away from Zeno’s law office that deals with federal finance law and the DOJ… Just a day in the life of the Baucus Friends, Family, and F*!k Buddy program.