Introduction to the
Right Wing Conspiracy
The Religious Right
and the Christian Reconstructionists
Christian Ayatollahs, and Racism
The 12 Worst (and most
powerful) Christian Right Groups
The Anatomy of the
The Tea Party
Part IX Want to know the
truth about statements made by Politicians? Click on the following web
sites to check on what is true and what is false.
Part X Max Baucus
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Baucus Tied To Energy/Climate
Lobbyists By Sunlight Foundation
The Sunlight Foundation's Paul Blumenthal traces
Sen. Max Baucus'
special interest ties to climate legislation
-- 12 of his former staffers, including four former chiefs of staff, now
lobby for organizations with a vested interest in the policy.
The Montana senator recently voted no on the
Boxer-Kerry climate bill from the Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee. As the chairman of the Senate's Finance Committee, Baucus will
have his own chance to mold the legislation, and his connections with
lobbyists representing a "large cross-sections of industries" could bring a
"diversity in positions on the underlying climate bill."
Former Baucus chief of staff David
Castagnetti represents a large number of organizations opposed to the
legislation including the American Petroleum Institute, the Business
Roundtable, the Air Transport Association of America and Koch
Industries. On the other end is former Policy Counsel J. Curtis Rich,
who represent a number of biofuel, bioenergy and alternative energy
groups that are generally supportive climate legislation.
The Associated Press
reported that of the 11
Democrats present for the vote, Baucus was the only one who voted no,
expressing dissatisfaction of the bill's greenhouse gas emission goals,
which are more stringent than those passed by the House in June.
Other committees still must weigh-in on
the measure, but the partisan antics early on threatened to cast a pall
over the bill - one of President Barack Obama's top priorities - as it
makes its way to the Senate floor and as nations prepare to meet in
Copenhagen, Denmark next month to hammer out a new international treaty
to slow climate change.
During this year's contentious effort to reform
health care, Baucus and the Finance Committee came under fire for his
extensive ties to the health care industry.
In 2008 he received $1,148,775 from the health care sector and $285,850 from
the insurance sector.
Max Baucus Nominated Melodee Hanes, His
Girlfriend, For U.S. Attorney
An Excerpt of a Article posted on
the Huffington Post on
- 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.
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.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max
Baucus was romantically involved with a former staffer
when he recommended her earlier this year to become the
next U.S. attorney for Montana, a spokesman said.
The Montana Democrat and his former
state office director Melodee Hanes began their
relationship in the summer of 2008 after Baucus
separated from his wife, Ty Matsdorf told The Associated
Press late Friday.
story was first broken by MainJustice.com's Andrew
Ramonas -- you can read his full write-up
Baucus, a Senate leader helping to
shepherd President Barack Obama's efforts to expand
health care, nominated Hanes for the U.S. attorney post
in March. But she later withdrew, saying she had been
presented with other opportunities she couldn't pass up.
Baucus had submitted six names to a
third-party reviewer, who whittled those to Hanes and
two others. Matsdorf said the senator sent the three
names to the White House with no ranking to select a
Matsdorf said Baucus' relationship
with his girlfriend had nothing to do with his decision.
"Senator Baucus recommended each of
the three candidates based solely on qualifications, and
merit, knowing whichever one the White House selected
would serve Montana well," Matsdorf said.
The spokesman said Baucus and Hanes
decided during the nomination process that she should
withdraw her name because the couple wanted to live
together in Washington, which they later did.
The senator disclosed the
circumstances surrounding the nomination after inquiries
from Mainjustice.com, a news Web site focusing on the
Justice Department that first reported Baucus'
relationship with his nominee.
Baucus has played a major role in
managing the Democrats' health care overhaul efforts. He
joined Senate debate Saturday on the health bill,
receiving a nod of support from Senate Majority Leader
"Max is a good friend, an
outstanding senator and he has my full support," Reid
said in a statement released by his spokesman.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of
Alaska said she didn't think the issue would affect
Baucus' leadership in the health care debate. "I don't
think it's going to distract from the substance of the
debate," she said in a brief interview Saturday during
the Senate's rare weekend session.
Baucus and his ex-wife Wanda
announced last April that they planned to divorce after
25 years of marriage, his second. In a joint statement,
they said they had "parted ways amicably and with mutual
Hanes started working for Baucus in
2002 and was his state director before leaving his
office earlier this year for a Justice Department
"Mel is supremely qualified and she
got to her current position based solely on her merit,"
President Barack Obama eventually
nominated Helena attorney Michael Cotter for the U.S.
attorney post, which supervises prosecutors of all
federal crimes committed in Montana and the state's
seven Indian reservations. Cotter is awaiting
Word of Hanes' nomination follows
other recent disclosures of romantic liaisons by
political leaders, including South Carolina Gov. Mark
Sanford, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., and two-time
Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards.
Sanford faces a possible
impeachment following his affair with a woman in
Argentina. Ensign, who has acknowledged in June to
having an affair with a former member of his campaign
staff, has made it clear he intends to serve out his
second term. Edwards' political career was damaged when
he acknowledged last year he had an affair with a
videographer in 2006. The admission came just months
after Edwards dropped his second presidential bid.
Baucus was elected to the Montana
House in 1973 and to the U.S. House in 1974 and 1976. He
was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978 at age 36, and
his current term runs until 2014.
The senator has played increasingly
visible roles in Congress, sometimes willing to buck his
Democratic Party on certain issues. He seems to take the
position that the state that sent him to the Senate for
five terms is fundamentally conservative and its voters
want someone willing to vote outside the party line.
Most recently Baucus has been at
the center of an effort to move sweeping health care
legislation through the Senate with a bill aimed at
meeting Obama's goal of overhauling the nation's health
care system to cover 30 million more Americans over the
On Friday, Baucus went against his
party and backed a Republican effort to eliminate a
long-term care insurance program to help seniors and the
disabled. Republicans argued that the new plan would be
a drain on the federal budget.
The Democrat has also been in the
middle of other congressional battles: He played a key
role in 2003 legislation adding a prescription-drug
benefit to the Medicare program and enactment of
President George W. Bush's tax cuts in 2001.
(born December 11,
1941) is the senior
and a member of the
Democratic Party. He
is the current chairman of the
United States Senate Committee on Finance
and is influential in the debate over
health care reform in the United States.
Baucus has come under fire
from critics who have alleged he has become an absentee Senator, and
who no longer really lives in Montana and only
occasionally comes to visit. Until 1991, Baucus owned a house in Missoula,
where he practiced law for three years before running for Congress in 1974.
He didn't own a home again in Montana until February 2002, when he bought
half of his mother's house from the
Sieben Ranch Company,
the ranch started by Baucus' great-grandfather in 1897. The ranch company,
and the senator's mother, still own the other half of the house. Baucus has
owned a home in Washington, D.C.'s upscale
district since 1984. As of November, 2007, the
Missoulian newspaper reported he owned no other property in Montana.
In April 2009, The Associated Press reported that Baucus and his wife,
the former Wanda Minge, are divorcing after 25 years of marriage.
Baucus has one son, Zeno, by his first wife, Ann Geracimos.
Baucus has completed a
and has crewed for female winner and fellow Montana
at the 100-mile
Western States Endurance Run,
which he hopes to run in 2009.
Early Life, Education, and Early Career
Baucus was born in
Helena, Montana, and
graduated from Helena High School in 1959. He attended
in Minnesota for a year before transferring to
where he received a
Bachelor of Arts
degree in economics 1964, and was a member of the
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
fraternity. After graduating, he attended Stanford
University's law school, receiving a
After finishing law school,
Baucus spent three years as a lawyer at the
Securities and Exchange Commission
in Washington, D.C. He moved back to Montana in 1971 to
serve as the executive director of the state's Constitutional Convention,
also opening a law office in
In November 1973, Baucus was
elected to the
Montana House of Representatives
as a state representative from Missoula. In November
1974 he was elected to the
United States House of Representatives,
and was re-elected in 1976.
United States Senate
Baucus was elected to the U.S.
Senate on November 7, 1978 for the term beginning January 3, 1979, but was
subsequently appointed to the seat by Montana's Democratic Governor
Thomas Lee Judge
on December 15, 1978 to fill the brief vacancy created
Paul G. Hatfield's
resignation. He has served consecutively ever since.
2008 re-election campaign
Baucus raised a record amount of
money for his 2008 re-election bid, 91 percent of which has come from
individuals living outside of Montana. Similarly, according to the
Center for Responsive Politics,
Baucus' 2008 campaign raised $11.6 million, only 13% of which came from
Montana donors; the rest included millions from health care and other
industries overseen by Finance and Baucus' other committees. The
overwhelming ratio of special interest and out-of-state dollars to donations
from Montana donors have raised questions:
So as Baucus and other lawmakers attempt to craft a
bill that can smash through a virtual gridlock of interests, the awkward
question lingers: To whom are they more attentive, their voting
constituencies back home or the dollar constituencies who are at the
Capitol every day?
As a result of Senator Baucus' significant fund raising
advantage, in the week that he announced his intentions to run for
re-election, he opened eight state offices – one more than he has official
offices in the state. Senator Baucus also announced that he had hired 35
full-time campaign staff members.
Senator Baucus won re-election in 2008 by a 73-27
Political Positions and Actions
generally viewed as a
member of the Senate, occasionally breaking with his
party on the issues of taxes, the environment, and
The website That's My Congress gives him a 23% rating on
progressive issues it tracks.
NARAL Pro-Choice America's
political action committee
endorsed Baucus during his
Connections to Jack Abramoff
In December 2005, following the public
corruption probe of
who was later convicted of fraud and corruption, Baucus
returned $18,892 in contributions that his office found to be connected to
Abramoff. Included in the returned donations was an estimated $1,892 that
was never reported for the use of Abramoff's skybox at a professional sports
stadium and concert venue in downtown Washington in 2001.
Baucus has a 74% pro-business voting
record as rated by the
United States Chamber of Commerce.
He twice voted to make filing bankruptcy more difficult for debtors, once in
July, 2001 to restrict rules on personal bankruptcy, and a second time in
March 2005 to include means-testing & restrictions for bankruptcy filers.
He has frequently visited places of employment within
the state and has personally participated in activities that he calls "Work
Days." He has also hosted economic development conferences.
In March 2005, Baucus voted against
repealing tax subsidies that benefit companies that move US jobs offshore.
On January 4, 2007, he wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal calling
on Democrats to renew Bush's fast-track authority for international trade
In response, the Montana State Salign=enate passed a
44-6 resolution "that the U.S. Congress be urged to create a replacement for
the outdated fast track system"
His environmental record is mixed.
Baucus supports Democratic leadership in voting against oil and gas
drilling, as well as by voting in favor national
standards to reduce oil consumption and spur the use of hydrogen
automobiles. However, he has voted against the
fuel economy standards and on increasing federal funds
for solar and wind power.
League of Conservation Voters
(LCV), which tracks support for the environment, gives
Baucus a 100% rating on its issues, but only for the second session of the
However, in December 2003, the LCV rated him at only
Health Care Reform
As chairman of the
Senate Finance Committee,
Baucus's called the first Senate meeting of interested parties before the
committee to discuss
health care reform,
including representatives from pharmaceutical groups, insurance companies,
and HMOs and hospital management companies. The meeting was controversial
because it did not include representatives from groups calling for
single-payer health care.
Conflict of Interest Charges
recently been embroiled in conflicts with other senators, particularly
who have portrayed him as beholden to special interests
in the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Baucus has come under criticism for his ties to the
health insurance and pharmaceutical industries while significant numbers of
his own constituents lack health insurance and access to health care. The
University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research found that
Montana has always ranked near the bottom in cross-state and national
comparisons of health insurance coverage.
Despite this backdrop in his home state, Senator Baucus
has been one of the biggest Senate beneficiaries of campaign contributions
from the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries. From 2003 to 2008,
Baucus received $3,973,485 from the health sector, including $852,813 from
pharmaceutical companies, $851,141 from health professionals, $784,185 from
the insurance industry and $465,750 from HMOs/health services, according to
the Center for Responsive Politics.
At least three senators received
more campaign contributions from the health sector from 2003 to 2008 - three
major Presidential contenders, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John
McCain. Baucus tops the list of recipients from business PACs. A 2006 study
found that between 1999 and 2005 Baucus, along with
former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, took in the most special-interest
money of any senator.
Only three senators have more
former staffers working as lobbyists on K Street, at least two dozen in
Several of Baucus' ex-staffers with whom he is still close, among
them, former chief of staff
are now working for the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries.
Castagnetti co-founded the lobbying firm of
Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti,
which represents "America’s
Health Insurance Plans Inc.," the national
trade group of health insurance companies, the Medicare Cost Contractors
Alliance, as well as
Merck & Co.
Another former chief of staff,
Jeff Forbes, went on
to open his own lobbying shop and to represent the
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
and the Advanced Medical Technology Association, among
Commentator Ed Schultz stated on his MSNBC TV show that
Baucus has received "more money from pharmaceutical companies and insurance
industry folks than any other Democrat in the Congress. Baucus got $183,000
from health insurance companies and $229,900 from drug companies", and
contrasting the presence of representatives from these groups with the
absence of representatives from Single payer advocates he added wryly "May I
remind you, they were at the table."
A statistical analysis of the
impact of political contributions on individual Senator's support for the
public insurance option conducted by
has suggested that Baucus was an unlikely supporter of
in the first place. Based on Baucus's political ideology
and the per capita health care spending in Montana, Silver's model projects
that there would be a 30.6% probability of Baucus supporting a public
insurance option even if he had received no relevant campaign contributions.
Silver calculates that the impact on Senator Baucus of the significant
campaign contributions that he has received from the health care industry
further reduces the probability of Baucus supporting a public insurance
option from 30.6% to just 0.6%.
The disproportionately large amount of political
contributions Senator Baucus has taken from the health care industry over
the years calls into question the impartiality of the Senator's decisions in
his capacity as Chair of the Senate Committee that controls healthcare
legislation; this includes the Senator's decision to exclude from the
legislative process advocates of a single payer option which is vehemently
opposed by the health care industry but has significant support from the
public at large. As noted above, Senator Baucus admitted in June 2009 that
it was a mistake to rule out a single payer plan on the grounds that, among
others, it alienated a large, vocal constituency.
In response to the questions raised by the large amount
of funding Senator Baucus took from the health care industry even as he
exerted control over health care legislation in the Senate, Senator Baucus
declared a moratorium as of July 1, 2009 on taking more special interest
money from health care political action committees.
Senator Baucus, however, declined to return as part of
his moratorium any of the millions of dollars he has received from health
care industry interests up until July 1, 2009 or to rule out a resumption of
taking the same or greater health care industry contributions in the future.
Senator Baucus' new policy on not taking health care industry money
reportedly still permits him to take money from lobbyists or corporate
executes, who the Washington Post found continued to make donations after
July 1, 2009.
A watchdog group found that in July 2009 Senator Baucus
took more money from the health care industry in violation of the
self-defined terms of his moratorium, leading the Senator to return the
Senator Baucus timed the start of his self-imposed
moratorium on July 1 to begin right after a Senate break in late June when
Baucus held his 10th annual fly-fishing and golfing weekend in Big Sky,
Montana, for a minimum donation of $2,500.
Senator Baucus, chairman of the
Senate Finance Committee which just voted down an amendment to add the
to its version of
HR 3200, got $3
million from the health and insurance industries from 2003 to 2008. The
ranking Republican on that committee, Sen.
took in more than $2 million since 2003.
The 2001 Onion Editorial
While online media affords
writers the opportunity to get their work out to the masses in a rapid,
timely fashion, one of the unique privileges that the platform affords is
the opportunity to very readily give an old article a second bite of the
web-traffic apple when events unfold in a fashion that give it new currency.
And at this very moment, the health care reform debate has given the news
satirists at The Onion a chance to do just that.
Back in May of 2001,
published a faux-editorial, purporting to be from Montana Senator Max
Baucus, in which "he"
I've been "serving" the great state of Montana
in the U.S. Senate since 1978. You'll notice I put "serving" in quotes,
because, let's face it, I suck. My wife has been pleading with me not to
say this publicly, insisting that it's not true, that I'm a capable and
dedicated public servant, blah, blah, blah. Bless her dear heart, but
she's just being nice. Because, folks, I am telling you, I am hands-down
the shittiest senator in the history of the Senate. The worst.
"Baucus" would go on to say, "I should just quit.
Actually, I should have quit a long time ago. But I never did, because the
people kept insisting I run for another term. I've been re-elected three
times, and every time I am, I get the notion that maybe, if I made a real
conscious effort, I could stop being such a lousy legislator."
That editorial was titled, "I'm Such A Shitty Senator,"
and it played off the humor that not too many people had really heard of or
cared about who Max Baucus was. But eight years later, the health care
reform debate would take off in Washington, DC, and Max Baucus would become
a major player. And there, the full flower of Max Baucus' actual, ineffable
shittiness would bloom, and The Onion shrewdly took advantage.
I spoke to Onion web editor Baratunde Thurston
about how they maximized their opportunity at reminding people that they had
been on the "Max Baucus is a shitty Senator" tip long before pointing out
Max Baucus' shittiness became the new black:
Before the healthcare drama, this article got
about 15 pageviews per day. No one cared. We noticed it popping up on a
few blogs and decided to feature it in our In Focus section on the
homepage and via Twitter in mid-September. That led to a high spike (up
to 22K pageviews in one day).
Naturally, if Max Baucus had
comported himself in any other manner than one befitting a real-life sack of
actual human waste, The Onion would have not been able to bring
readers back to their 2001 piece, and it would have remained a little-viewed
piece of satiric arcana. Of course, as Thurston points out, 2001 was a
pretty good year for The Onion's overall
What if The Onion, instead of titling their
article "I'm Such A Shitty Senator," had opted to go with "I'm Such A
Gape-Mouthed Whore For Health Care Industry Lobbyists?" My feeling is that
it would have been more true, less funny, and just as sad.
I'm Such A Shitty Senator
Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And
Prosperity Is Finally Over'
[The Onion]Read more