Things have always been weird in Washington. But 2015 provided more than a few “huh?” moments for even the most insider of Washington insiders.
Here are some things from 2015 we didn’t see coming.
The Deez Nuts saga
It all started with a poll.
After Deez Nuts was introduced to the world as a presidential candidate, hundreds of jokesters followed. As if the Federal Election Commission doesn’t have enough on its plate with keeping track of the millions of dollars entering the 2016 race, it also has to sort the real candidates from the Obi-Wan Kenobies, Queen Elsas and three fake Joe Bidens.
James Bond and the other international man of mystery
The 007 actor Daniel Craig gave nearly $50,000 to a super PAC claiming to support Bernie Sanders. But as Center for Public Integrity politics reporter Michael Beckel found out, we’re not exactly sure where that money is going. Maybe Albania.
One thing is certain: Sanders himself isn’t happy about the group using his name.
What does ‘full service president’ mean, anyway?
Most of the Clinton family news this year has been about Hillary. However this year, the Center for Public Integrity finally got an answer to a two-decades old question about Bill Clinton. It started with an investigation that revealed almost half the sleepover donors of Bill Clinton’s White House have supported Hillary since January 2013.
After our findings were published, Democratic fundraiser Patricia Duff called the Center to explain once and for all what she meant by calling Bill Clinton a “full service president.”
Strange things afoot in the states
Only three states earned grades above a D+ for transparency and accountability in our 2015 State Integrity Investigation. With such low scores, maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that our 50 state-based reporters turned up a few strange stories. Some highlights:
In Arkansas, a state senator used campaign funds to buy an $8,000 home sound system and to cover $1,000 in country club expenses. Arkansas also allows lobbyists to provide meals for government officials, as long as they invite a “specific governmental body.”
In California, a state Senator plead guilty this past summer to taking bribes from FBI agents, political racketeering and running guns in the Philippines.
In Idaho, the head of the state Racing Commission was a paid lobbyist for a Wyoming gaming company that operates the slot machine-like games regulated by the Idaho commission.
See how your state ranked in our investigation and read more strange stories of lax accountability in the states.
Help support this work
Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising so that our investigative reporting can have the widest possible impact on addressing inequality in the U.S. Our work is possible thanks to support from people like you.