Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) has announced that he won’t be seeking re-election in 2014, and the alert national media has spun this into many themed stories: how it further endangers the Democratic Party’s chances of holding the Senate; how it will remove one of the purported experts on the tax code from possible tax reform efforts; how, as Washington Post columnist Stephen Stromberg put it, Baucus has a chance to leave “an admirable tax-reform legacy” by negotiating a deal on a carbon tax. All of this misses the Tyrannosaurus in the room, and worse than that, leaves the impression that it doesn’t matter. Baucus is one of the most corrupt and untrustworthy members of the Senate, which is no small accomplishment, if not exactly an admirable legacy. He should resign now, as he should have resigned years ago. The fact that his colleagues didn’t force him to resign (like his former, similarly corrupt Republican colleague, Sen. Ensign) shows just how unworthy of the American public that body is.
Since he was last elected by the good people of Montana, Baucus…
- Carried on an inter-office, and adulterous, affair with staffer Melodee Hanes
- Blatantly favored her in the course of business, giving her an excessive raise and taking her along with him on costly junkets
- Nominated Hanes to be a U.S. attorney, a plum job Hanes withdrew herself from consideration for after their clandestine affair was revealed
- Probably pulled strings to get her a high-ranking job in the Justice Department, after the couple divorced their respective spouses and got married in 2011…
…all of which violated Senate or U.S. government ethics rules. and regulations. Why does this matter? It matters because it proves that Sen. Baucus will use the power of his position for personal agendas and gain. It means that he is untrustworthy. It means that whatever tax reform deal he devises to burnish his “legacy” is as likely as not to be the product of illicit deals, cronyism, dishonesty, kick-backs or other corruption, because Sen. Baucus doesn’t see anything wrong with using his position to benefit himself, and will lie aggressively to cover his tracks.
When Baucus announced that he wasn’t running, several news stories lamented that this was a blow to the chances for a coherent budget deal, because Baucus was a tax expert and wielded so much influence. Nonsense. Getting corrupt and unethical politicians like Max Baucus out of government is always, always, a benefit to the public and the nation, whatever their talents. The pity is that he doesn’t have the decency to leave immediately.
Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur
Graphic: Great Falls Tribune