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

FILED UNDER: 2006 Election, Blogosphere, Congress, , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

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

  2. madmatt says:

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

  3. 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…

  4. Triumph says:

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

  5. 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…

  6. Anderson says:

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

  7. 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.

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

  9. Anderson says:

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

    Heh. Indeed.

  10. McGehee says:

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