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When Santa Was Fired Before Christmas

That time the U.S. Chamber of Commerce fired Santa Clause. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
That time the U.S. Chamber of Commerce fired Santa Clause. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The holiday season isn’t always a time for good cheer, especially when Santa Claus gets fired.  

What say you? What Scrooge was responsible for bouncing St. Nick? Let’s take a trip with the ghost of Christmas Throwback Thursday to the Dec. 17, 2007, edition of HOH.

“Santa Falls to Ethics Clause. Sorry, Washington, there is no Santa. That roly-poly, red-suited fellow who usually jollies up the annual U.S. Chamber of Commerce Christmas blowout? He got the ax, thanks to the new ethics rules governing gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers and their staffs.

“In previous years, the Chamber’s ultra-luxe party has been one of the favorites on many a Hill staffer’s holiday calendar. A ‘real’ Santa, usually flanked by a posse of elves, was one of the fete’s highlights — other than, of course, the free-flowing top-shelf bar. Partygoers could pose for pictures on St. Nick’s lap and get a Polaroid to memorialize the merriment, a la childhood visits to the mall Santa. But this year, party planners worried that the snapshots could be considered a gift of value banned under the new ethics rules. A chamber spokesman said the group went so far in making sure the event didn’t run afoul of the new rules that organizers had to cut out some favorite traditions. ‘We were so compliant, we had to fire Santa,’ he said. Valet services, too, were nixed, since they could possibly be seen as a gift.

“Some attendees were saddened by the absence of the jolly old fellow, including one former GOP staffer who made an annual tradition of having her picture snapped with Santa and her old roommate, and pinning the mug shot to the fridge.

“But it wasn’t tantamount to coal in partygoers’ stockings, since the open bars and plentiful cocktail snacks (albeit very, very tiny ones, so as not to violate the ethics rules, which have been interpreted to exclude food needing a knife and fork) were there to console revelers, no matter if they had been nice — or naughty — this year.”


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