Santa Claus is busy putting the finishing touches on his list of who's been naughty and who's been nice this year. As a North Pole resident, we're not sure if the big guy follows U.S. politics. So we decided to help him out with our own list of politicians and Washington power players.
First, the naughty ones:
Michael Grimm. The three-term lawmaker from Staten Island is under federal investigation for alleged campaign finance violations. When a reporter decided to ask Grimm about it during a post-State of the Union interview, Grimm threatened threatened to throw the reporter off a balcony and said he would "break you in half like a boy."
That turned out to be the least of Grimm's problems this year. In April, the GOP lawmaker was slapped with a 20-count indictment for improper tax filings, paying employees off the books, and hiring undocumented immigrants while he owned a Manhattan restaurant called Healthalicious. Yes, that was actually the name.
Despite all that, Grimm was reelection in November. But his legal issues continue to linger. The New York Daily News reported Monday that Grimm will plead guilty to one felony count of tax evasion.
Vance McAllister. The Louisiana Republican campaigned on Christian values in his successful 2012 run for Congress. But the married father of five was caught on camera in April 2014 kissing a female staffer, who was also married. The so-called "Kissing Congressman" decided to seek reelection in June and cut this awkward campaign ad with his wife. But he was handily defeated.
Brian Schweitzer. Earlier this year, the former Montana governor seemed to be gaining traction as a potential alternative to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.
That came to a screeching halt in mid-June, when Schweitzer's loose tongue killed any chance he had of mounting a serious candidacy. Here's what he told National Journal's Marin Cogan:
Schweitzer apologized in a Facebook note, but it was too late. His political obituary was already written.
John Walsh. It was a bad year for Democrats in Montana. Back in February, the party was happy when John Walsh was appointed to the U.S. Senate. Walsh, the state's lieutenant governor, was also a high-ranking National Guard official who could give Democrats a chance at hanging on to the Senate seat in the midterm elections. But in July, The New York Times revealed that Walsh plagiarized large portions of his masters thesis at the U.S. Army War College.
Walsh dropped out of the race in August and Republican Steve Daines cruised to victory over the Democrats' obscure replacement.
The Secret Service. The agency tasked with protecting the president of the United States had a few too many high-profile screw-ups this year.
On Sept. 19, a knife-wielding man jumped the fence at the White House and made it far into the building before being apprehended by an off-duty agent. The Secret Service also caught heat for allowing a security guard, whom it did not know was armed, ride in an elevator with President Obama during a visit to the CDC three days before the fence-jumping incident.
Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigned in October and an independent panel found that the agency is in need of sweeping changes. The list of recommendations did not include putting Steven Segal in charge.
Dick Cheney. A Senate report revealed the CIA's use torture in the years following 9/11 was far more brutal than anyone imagined and produced little, if any, valuable intelligence. One of the only public figures unequivocally defending the program is former Vice President Dick Cheney.
In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Cheney said that he "would do it again in a minute" even though the report found over two dozen tortured detainees were innocent. He also denied that the CIA's so-called "enhanced interrogation tactics" were forms of torture.
Jonathan Gruber. You may have seen #GruberGate appear in your Twitter feed last month. It centered around controversial remarks made by Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who worked on President Obama's healthcare law and Mitt Romney's reforms in Massachusetts.
In November, a Philadelphia investment advisor unearthed clips of Gruber, including one of him saying the "stupidity of the American voter" was critical in getting the Affordable Care Act passed.
His comments about Obamacare subsidies, however, could prove even more damaging to the law itself. They could help plaintiffs in a Supreme Court case challenging the law, arguing that it does not allow people in states without their own healthcare exchanges to collect subsidies.
Let's face it, the naughty list in politics is always going be to longer than the nice list. But here are a few people who deserve more than a lump of coal:
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Casey (D-Pa.) and Rep. Crenshaw (R-Fla.), allows people with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts to pay for expenses related to their condition. President Obama signed it into law last Friday after the Senate and House passed it with sweeping bipartisan support. The measure received little press, but it was an all-too-rare example of lawmakers coming together to help people.
Joy Woodhouse. She is (remarkably) the mother of two operatives on opposite sides of the political spectrum and she is not going to let their bickering ruin Christmas.
Dallas and Brad Woodhouse were doing a joint appearance on C-SPAN last week when "Joy in Raleigh, North Carolina" called in. Dallas immediately recognized the caller once she started speaking. "Oh God, it's mom," he blurted out.
“I was very glad that this Thanksgiving was a year that you two were supposed to go to your in-laws. And I’m hoping you’ll have some of this out of your system when you come here for Christmas," she said. "I would really like a peaceful Christmas."
Less partisan sniping? We all hope you get what you want for Christmas, Mrs. Woodhouse.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.