HELENA – U.S. Sen. Max Baucus and wife Wanda said Thursday that they are divorcing after 25 years of marriage, bringing closure to speculation that they have been separated since last year.
In a joint statement, the Baucuses said they have “parted ways amicably and with mutual respect.”
The 67-year-old senator easily won re-election to a sixth term last year and is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Wanda Baucus was not seen with him on the campaign trail, and rarely returned to Montana with him.
“Our marriage has been an interesting journey often of intense work with many people who have become cherished friends,” the statement read. “We are grateful for the opportunities we have had together and now as we pursue individual lives we appreciate everyone’s understanding and respect for our privacy.”
It was reported last year that the two had separated. Max Baucus never confirmed the split, acknowledging only that the couple had some “differences” in the marriage, which is his second.
As chairman of the Finance Committee he has played an increasingly visible role on key issues such as health care and taxation.
Baucus has been a central figure in bringing together disparate health-care groups in an effort to overhaul the system. He recently made waves by proposing an extensive tax bill that would make permanent some of the middle-class tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration. Baucus also was at the center of efforts to punish insurance giant AIG for handing out bonuses after taking federal bailout money.
The son of a prominent Helena-area ranching family, Baucus first won election to the Senate in 1977 after serving two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Wanda Baucus, 60, made national news in 2004 after she was accused of assaulting a woman at a garden center in the Washington, D.C., area. Police said the senator’s wife was upset that she was not assisted in loading mulch into her car, while another customer did receive help. Mrs. Baucus reached a deal with federal prosecutors to avoid prosecution on a misdemeanor assault charge.
The Tennessee native is an anthropologist, writer and painter whose art often appeared on the couple’s Christmas cards. Max Baucus and Wanda Minge met while she worked for the late Sen. Paul Tsongas, D-Mass.
Baucus and his first wife, Ann Geracimos Baucus, divorced in 1982. They have a son, Zeno.
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