In March 2008, Max Baucus (D-MT) had separated from his wife. That same month, Andrew Ramanos was in his final undergraduate semester at George Washington University, where he worked on the school newspaper, the GW Hatchet.

In the summer of 2008, Baucus started dating a former staffer, Melodee Hanes. Sometime very early in 2009, Hanes was one of three names submitted by Baucus as possible U.S. Attorney nominees. In March 2009, Hanes withdrew her name from consideration.

As of the day before yesterday, Ramanos does not appear to have broken any major story or received any considerable attention in his short journalistic career.

For the past two weeks Baucus has been causing problems for Democrats by threatening, among other things, to join in a Republican filibuster if certain important changes were not made to Harry Reid’s health care restructuring bill particularly on the abortion issue because he does not support the type of “robust” public option and other items important to Democrats and is more conservative on the abortion issue. Baucus is one of a small number of Democrats who might join a Republican filibuster on these issues.*

Yesterday, Ramonos, writing for a blog called Main Justice, broke the story of Baucus‘ relationship with Hanes.

The revelation is an embarrassment for Baucus at this critical time in the health care debate, even though Baucus defends his conduct:

The disclosure comes at a critical time for Baucus, who is leading Senate negotiations over the sprawling health care bill. It remains to be seen whether the disclosure will become an unwanted distraction as the bill moves into a pivotal phase in the coming days.

And despite Baucus’ office contention that nothing was improper about his recommendation, it will almost certainly spark calls for Ethics Committee inquiries given the appearance that Baucus was assisting his girlfriend secure a top spot as a prosecutor in the Obama administration.

Baucus opposes Democrats on health care. Cub reporter breaks the story embarrassing Baucus. Someone connected to the White House or Democratic leadership drop a dime? Or mere coincidence?

Hey Max, do you believe in coincidence?

[* I changed the language in this post because it does not appear that Baucus has threatened to filibuster, but he is one of those who are on the fence]
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