Al Franken Hosts Secret Santa, Marco Rubio Gets Coal

Sen. Manchin wins for best gift of the night.

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Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., questions  witnesses during the committee's hearing on "Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities," Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in Washington.
“Anything that brings Democrats and Republicans together and builds relationships is a good thing,” Franken told Whispers about his Senate Secret Santa gift exchange.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has brought the ho-ho-hope of bipartisanship to Capitol Hill with his annual Senate Secret Santa for three years now, and on Tuesday evening, the senators once again exchanged gifts.

"Anything that brings Democrats and Republicans together and builds relationships is a good thing," Franken told Whispers via email. "That's why three years ago I came up with the idea to hold a Secret Santa in the Senate and I've been doing it ever since."

This year, Franken drew his Democratic colleague Sen. Joe Donnelly, Ind., and gifted him a hand-drawn map of the United States, which paid particular attention to the states that played a role in Donnelly's life.

Some senators gave favorites from their home states. For example, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., gave his colleague Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., some jam and jellies made by House of Webster in Rogers, Ark. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., showed off his home state's red clay by gifting Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a "Georgia Clay Bread Warmer." And Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., gave a hat tip to a local charity by giving Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., dog treats made by arcBARKS, a program out of Greensboro for the developmentally and intellectually disabled.

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Other senators made their gift recipients feel at home. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was gifted California wine by Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was given Dunkin Donuts (and the Massachusetts-based company's delicious coffee) by her colleague, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was the only senator to receive coal in his Christmas stocking, but with a twist. He was gifted an elephant statue made of the product from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, W.Va., who wanted to proudly show off the wares from his coal-producing home state.

Overall, 65 senators participated (five more than in 2012), according to NBC News and each couldn't spend more than $15.

"It's something that we did back in grade school in St. Louis Park and I think it genuinely brings some much necessary bipartisan cheer to the Senate," Franken told Whispers.


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