’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the city,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a kitty.

Council members worn out from pretending they care,

slept and hoped that contributions soon would be there.

Contractors were nestled all snug in their beds,

while visions of boondoggles danced in their heads.

And Mayor Gray with a Christmas list at rest in his lap

had just nodded off for a short winter’s nap.

When out in the city there arose such a clatter,

councilmembers sprang up to see what was the matter.

Away to their windows they flew like a flash,

tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.

When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,

but the U.S. attorney with a federal team quite near.

The prosecutor was hard-driving and bore a strong jaw;

city leaders knew in a moment that it must be The Law.

More rapid than eagles, the federal team came,

and the U.S. attorney, shouting, gave assignments by name!

“Now, FBI! Now, prosecutors! Now, IRS, too!

“On, informants! On, wiretaps! On with our slick coup!

“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!

“Now put ’em away! Put ’em away! Put them away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

so up to the housetop the federal team flew,

with sleighs full of subpoenas and the U.S. attorney, too.

And then, in a twinkling, legislators heard on the roof

prancing and pawing that they knew was no spoof.

As they drew in their heads, and were turning around,

down the chimney the feds came with an ear-shattering sound.

They were dressed all in black, from their heads to their feet,

and despite the chimney soot their clothes were quite neat.

A bundle of affidavits they had flung on their backs,

and they looked like accountants, just opening their packs.

Their eyes — how they glowered! Their faces not merry!

They looked all around for politicians to bury!

Their mouths were drawn down like Detroit’s cash reserves,

scary enough to give pols a case of the nerves.

City leaders used to getting ahead by the skin of their teeth,

watched as the feds encircled them like a wreath.

City contractors with their big fat round bellies

thought of jail and shook like bowls full of jelly!

The U.S. attorney was rather plump, like an elf.

A council member snickered in spite of himself!

But the glare in the prosecutor’s eyes, and a twist of his head,

made that council member know he had everything to dread.

The top fed spoke not a word; his team went straight to work,

slapping pols and contractors with subpoenas, then he turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

Gave his team a nod, and up the chimney they rose!

They sprang to their sleighs, and to his team gave a whistle,

and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, as they drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and some of y’all, I’ll indict.”

With the deepest apology to Clement Clarke Moore, who wrote “A Visit
From St. Nicholas” for his family in the early 19th century.

Read more from Colbert King’s archive.