Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is defending recommending his girlfriend for appointment as Montana's U.S. attorney.
Baucus said the he and former state office director Melodee Hanes began dating when they were both separated from their spouses. The Montana Democrat said they did not have an affair.
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In a statement issued by his office Saturday, Baucus said he recommended Hanes to become Montana's U.S. attorney because she is a highly qualified prosecutor who tried more than 100 jury trials, and said she is widely regarded as an expert in child abuse prosecution.
Baucus, who is helping Democrats expand health care, nominated Hanes for the post in March. But she later withdrew, saying she had been presented with other opportunities she couldn't pass up. Baucus said the two now live together in Washington.
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