Do you believe in Santa Claus?
Congressional hopeful Kerry Bentivolio does. In fact, he just might believe he is Santa Claus.
Before Bentivolio was the Republican candidate for congress in Michigan’s 11th District, he worked as a Santa Claus impersonator. For the past 18 years, Bentivolio has run a business called Old Fashion Santa. He dresses up as Santa – in green, because a red suit would be too “commercial”—and his sled is pulled by live reindeer.
He has several reindeer – including Rumples and Aurora, who are featured prominently on his website.
In a 1996 court case, Bentivolio testified to the fact that his two identities were beginning to blur, according to court documents obtained by The Daily Caller.
“I’d like to say I’m really Santa Claus and I play somebody else the rest of the year,” Bentivolio said during the court proceedings.
He was in court for a defamation lawsuit, that he filed against a former creditor of his.
In 1992, Bentivolio, out of cash and unable to pay his debts, filed for bankruptcy. Several years later, a creditor who was never paid as a result of the bankruptcy filing, saw Bentivolio in the newspaper: he had written a letter to the White House and secured an invite to head to Washington, DC and play Santa.
She confronted him at an Old Fashion Santa event, and, according to the court documents, accused him of being a “criminal,” and also called at least one possible client of Bentivolio’s and called him a “fraud and a cheat,” according to the court opinion.
During his testimony before the court, Bentivolio referred to himself as “we,” something noted in the court opinion, along with the fact that “he was reluctant when asked to refer to himself as ‘I.’”
According to the court opinion, this was not just something he did while in court. Rather, “witnesses testified that he demanded recognition of this persona from his entourage.”
During the line of questioning about why Bentivolio referred to himself as “we,” he noted: “Maybe I should have went to see a shrink.”
Bentivolio’s campaign manager explained* that the candidate’s pronoun use was designed not to upset any children who believe in Santa Claus.
“Mr. Bentivolio runs a Christmas business that brings holiday cheer to thousands each year,” said Bob Dindoffer. “Mr. Bentivolio refers to Santa Claus as a separate person because Mr. Bentivolio does not want to ruin the dreams of little children. He is a big supporter of Christmas. For his support of Christmas to be twisted into a political hit against him is just wrong.”
“The candidates in this race have major policy differences, which should determine the race,” Dindoffer went on. “Syed Taj accepted money from the Democratic Socialists of America, believes in higher taxes, and wants to expand ObamaCare into a single-payer system. Kerry Benivolio wants to get people back to work and encourage job creation by cutting taxes and streamlining regulations.”
Yes, Michigan, there is a Santa Claus. And he’s running for Congress.
*This article has been updated with a response from the Bentivolio campaign.