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HELENA | Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, says he plans to marry his girlfriend and former director of his state offices.

Mr. Baucus said Monday he and Melodee Hanes were engaged over the Christmas holiday in Helena. The 69-year-old says they intend to marry in Montana this summer.

Mr. Baucus and his second wife, Wanda, divorced in early 2009 after 25 years of marriage.

The senator recommended Miss Hanes for Montana’s U.S. attorneys post in 2009, a move that later came under scrutiny owing to their relationship.

By then, Miss Hanes had withdrawn her name from consideration and instead took a job with the Justice Department in Washington.

Miss Hanes was a former state prosecutor before joining Mr. Baucus’ staff.


U.S. weighs new envoy to Venezuela

The Obama administration says it may nominate a new ambassador to Venezuela after its previous choice was rejected by the government of President Hugo Chavez.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. thinks it is important to have an ambassador in Caracas in order to manage relations, which have been strained by Mr. Chavez’s condemnations of the U.S. and by U.S. criticisms that democracy is deteriorating in Venezuela.

Mr. Crowley said Monday the administration regrets that Mr. Chavez refused to accept Larry Palmer as ambassador. It said that if a decision is made to seek Venezuela’s agreement on another envoy, that candidate’s nomination would have to be submitted to the Senate for confirmation. Mr. Crowley said this was now under consideration.

From wire dispatches and staff reports