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Santorum Ouster Means End of Senate Candy Desk

Rick Santorum’s re-election defeat has had one previously unexplored consequence: the end of free candy for Senators.

With Democrats back in control of Congress for the first time in years, much is changing in the nation’s capital, including a longtime tradition in the U.S. Senate: the “candy desk.”

For a decade until his defeat last year, Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, stocked the desk with donations from home-state candy makers including Hershey Co. and Just Born Inc., maker of Hot Tamales and Peanut Chews. With Mr. Santorum gone, the desk, which is dipped into by many members, has been turned over to Sen. Craig Thomas, a Republican from Wyoming. But his state is better known for bison than bonbons — and that’s a big problem.

Ethics rules forbid members accepting gifts worth $100 or more a year from a single source. One exception covers items produced in a senator’s home state — so long as they’re used primarily by people other than the senator or his staff. The provision was crafted to allow senators to offer visitors home-grown snacks, such as Florida orange juice or Georgia peanuts.

Yes, Pennsylvania still has its requisite two Senators. You’d think the candy makers could pony up some goodies for them, too, right? But it’s not so simple:

As it happens, relying on Pennsylvania wasn’t an option. Mr. Santorum’s successor, Bob Casey, is a Democrat, and the candy desk has by tradition always been located on the Republican side of the Senate chamber, in a heavily trafficked area near the exit to the elevators. The state’s other senator, Arlen Specter, a Republican, already has a choice seat toward the front.

Senate Candy Desk Photo and Chart

We’ll see how the Senate adapts to this monumental development.

þ: Taegan Goddard

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. McGehee says:

    Oh, they can move Specter to the back of the room. I wouldn’t mind in the least.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. madmatt says:

    2nd most important desk is located by the congressional pages…coincidentally this is on the republican side as well!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. First act for Dems is ethics cleanup…

    Democrats take control of the House Thursday for the first time in a dozen years and plan as their f…

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  4. Mark says:

    Now they get to enjoy free bison meat! Maybe they can put in a grill as well and make each session a cookout…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Triumph says:

    Senator Thomas should stock the desk with Wyoming’s most important export: coal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. legion says:

    Triumph – Wyoming’s most important export? Perhaps Casey should stuff Cheney into his desk… I hear he needs a new office now anyway…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Anderson says:

    Slow news day? Khamenei is dead. I know it’s true, b/c Pajamas Media says so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. James Joyner says:

    Heh. Sorry–long meeting.

    I saw the PJM piece on Khameini. Despite Michael Ledeen’s never having been wrong on anything before, I figured I’d wait for a second source.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. That was my reaction as well in re: PJM and Khameini.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Anderson says:

    Despite Michael Ledeen’s never having been wrong on anything before,

    Heh. Indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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  12. Candy from Wyoming?…

    Republican Sen. Craig Thomas has become ensnared in the congressional candy controversy of 2007, but a Wyoming chocolate company may help him find a sweet ending to the sticky mess. For almost 40 years, U.S. senators with candy cravings have stopped by…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. McGehee says:

    It appears there may be a way for Thomas to keep the desk stocked after all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0