Daily Archives: December 14, 2009

Senator Baucus Nominates Girl Friend to be U.S. Attorney by Gregory Hilton

We have heard this story before and it is not partisan. Veteran lawmakers in both parties have ended long term marriages to marry female staffers who are 20 years their junior. Wanda Baucus is now 63, and until earlier this year she was married to Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), the powerful Chairman of the Finance Committee for 25 years.
I first met her when she was 38, and I thought she was the most attractive Senate spouse. She had a prominent role in the misguided nuclear freeze movement, but her former friends in various liberal organizations have not been kind to her. The title of Alexander Cockburn’s article was “A Bitch Named Wanda,” and in 2004 he publicly asked her “when are you going to dump that two timing husband?” I think they should be grateful to her.
She kept quiet throughout 2008 when he was re-elected to another six year term. Wanda Baucus is an abstract artist who previously served on the Harvard faculty and was a top aide to two U.S. Senators. She says Washington “is the strangest town I have ever lived in. I have lived in New York, Cambridge, Florida, Europe, and there is no place where women self-censor the way they do in Washington.”
She told the Washington Post about receiving unwanted attention from two senators, including persistent phone calls from one while she was working on Capitol Hill and a roving hand under the table from another when she was attending a dinner party with her husband. Both times she rebuffed the senators but did not publicly call them on their behavior.
Mrs. Baucus was “seething in silence but reluctant to talk.” She would not reveal their names because “to confront them would have hurt their wives and brought them pain.” She did go public with her criticism of then Senator Chuck Robb (D-VA) who is married to the daughter of the late President Lyndon Johnson.
She called Robb to demand that he fire the aide who attempted to silence Tai Collins, a former beauty queen who said she had an extramarital relationship with Robb.
Collins went public with details of the affair after she had been subjected to a barrage of intimidating meetings with the Senator’s attorneys and staff.
She was cautioned to keep quiet, and Collins said she “wanted the harassment to end.” Mrs. Baucus went on to tell the Washington Post, “It’s a man’s town, and even Elizabeth Taylor when she was married to a member of the Senate, left saying it’s a wonderful place for men to live, but it’s a deadly city for women. If the women I know in Washington and in the Senate talked and said all the things they know, this government would — I mean talk about the revolution….I mean this place would be turned upside down.”
Baucus has been in the press before for a relationship with a top staffer. I know Republicans are also guilty of infidelity and sexual harassment, but this is the same Max Baucus who was the champion of Anita Hill. He told us to believe Ms. Hill “because women do not lie about these things.” Baucus’ second wife was a Senate staffer and in 1999, he fired then-Chief of Staff Christine Niedermeier, who in turn accused him of sexual harassment. Niedermeier is an attorney who twice ran for Congress as a liberal Democrat in the 1980s.
She says Baucus pursued her relentlessly, asking her jealously about other boyfriends, making inappropriate comments and suggesting the two vacation together. She said he even proposed marriage. Niedermeier was promised a five-figure settlement from Baucus but he never paid. She has e-mails to support her story.