U.S. Sen. Max Baucus is escaping the Washington, D.C., political pressure-cooker this weekend to take care of some personal business in Montana: He’s getting married on Saturday to his former state office director, Melodee Hanes.
Hanes, 54, an attorney who now works at the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C., and Baucus, 69, plan to tie the knot Saturday afternoon at the Baucus family’s Sieben Ranch north of Helena.
“Max and Melodee are looking forward to celebrating their special day with close friends and family at the Sieben Ranch this weekend,” said Baucus spokeswoman Kate Downen. “They feel blessed to start their new life together under the Big Sky in a place so close to their hearts.”
Downen said the wedding will be a relaxed “jeans and boots affair” with an outdoor ceremony near the hill where Baucus’ father, John, and nephew, Philip, are buried. Baucus’ nephew was a U.S. Marine who was killed in Iraq in 2006.
About 150 people are expected for the wedding, she said. The guest list is not being made public, but sources told the Lee Newspapers State Bureau that Vice President Joe Biden, a close friend of Baucus, is expected to attend.
The Wilbur Rehmann Quartet, a jazz band from Helena, will be providing the music at the reception. Max’s son, Zeno, and his wife and Hanes’ two children will toast the bride and groom and give them away as a family.
The marriage will be the third for Baucus, D-Mont., who was divorced from his second wife, Wanda, in 2009.
Hanes, a former prosecutor in the Yellowstone County attorney’s office in Billings, left that job in 2002 to work on Baucus’ re-election campaign and later joined his staff, first as Billings-area field director and then state director in 2005.
She left Baucus’ staff in late 2008 and now is special counselor to the administrator and acting deputy for policy in the U.S. Justice Department, working on juvenile justice cases.
Baucus has been a U.S. senator since 1979, winning re-election five times.
Baucus and Hanes won’t have time for any immediate honeymoon, Downen said. Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, plans to head back Tuesday to Washington, where key senators are working on a possible budget-and-tax deal to increase the federal debt ceiling.
The couple hopes to have some vacation time later this summer in Glacier National Park, she said.