Timeline of Baucus-Hanes relationship

December 07, 2009 11:00 pm

Gazette State Bureau

HELENA — Below is a chronology of the employment/personal relationship of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and his former staffer Melodee Hanes.

2002: Hanes leaves job as a deputy prosecutor at the Yellowstone County attorney’s office and becomes fundraiser for Friends of Max Baucus, the senator’s re-election campaign organization.

2003: Hanes begins working for Baucus’ Senate staff, starting as field director and counsel.

2005: Promoted to being state director for Baucus, the highest-ranking staff position in Montana for the senator.

March 2008: Baucus said, at this time, he separated from his wife of 25 years, Wanda, and temporarily moves in with his son, Zeno, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., before finding a place of his own.

April 2008: Baucus said he began a relationship with Hanes, who at that time was married to Thomas Bennett.

November 2008: Hanes files for divorce from Bennett, her husband of 12 years. Baucus is re-elected to sixth term in the U.S. Senate.

February 2009: Baucus recommends Hanes, along with five others, for U.S. attorney for Montana. The job is the highest-ranking federal prosecutor in the state.Former Missoulian reporter Jodi Rave begins working on a story about whether Baucus is in a romantic relationship with Hanes and whether recommending her for the U.S. attorney job is a conflict of interest.

March 2009: A Baucus spokesman tells Rave that Hanes is not a candidate for the job. Baucus had not publicly acknowledged that he was separated from his wife, or that he had a relationship with Hanes.

April 2009: Wanda Baucus files for divorce from Sen. Baucus, after 25 years of marriage.

June 2009: Hanes accepts a job at the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C., earning between $120,000 and $150,000, according to her financial disclosure documents. By then, the senator and Hanes are living together in Washington, D.C.

Dec. 4, 2009: Web site www.mainjustice.com and the Capitol newspaper Roll Call break the story about Hanes being Baucus’ girlfriend when he recommended her as a possible U.S. attorney nominee.

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