WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The head of a powerful U.S. Senate committee gave a nearly $14,000 raise in 2008 to a female staffer with whom he was romantically involved, observers say.
Later that year, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., took Melodee Hanes on a taxpayer-funded trip to Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and more recently nominated her for U.S. attorney in Montana, the Politico Web site reported.
Baucus acknowledged his relationship with Hanes, saying she withdrew from consideration for Montana prosecutor when the affair became more serious. The senator insists Hanes, who worked on Baucus's staff as his state director and senior counsel, was well-qualified for the prosecutor position and dismissed calls for an ethics investigation.
Baucus and Hanes began dating in 2008. Hanes's divorce from her husband was effective last December and Baucus was divorced from his wife this past June. Hanes and other staff received their raises in this time period.
Baucus and Hanes are now living together on Capitol Hill.