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Corruption Chronicles

Convicted Congressman Runs For Old Seat After Prison

A once-powerful Democrat congressman from Ohio who recently completed a seven-year prison sentence for corruption plans to make a political comeback as an independent in the district he represented for nearly two decades before going to jail.

James Traficant, convicted of nearly a dozen felonies, has filed the required paperwork this week to run for Congress. Traficant represented the northeast Ohio area of Youngstown, about 65 miles southeast of Cleveland, for nine terms in the U.S. House before serving time for racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

In 2002 he was convicted of accepting bribes from businessmen and taking kickbacks from staff members. Traficant’s colleagues in Congress subsequently expelled him, making him only the second member since the Civil War to be ousted for violating ethics rules.

His storied political career also includes a separate corruption trial involving mafia payoff charges in the early 1980s and a U.S. Tax Court case later that decade. The 68-year-old crooked politician finished his federal prison sentence in September and his convictions don’t bar him from serving in Congress gain.

For years he was known as one of the most animated members of Congress with his trademark toupee, extravagant outfits and history of unscrupulous actions. Traficant once compared the U.S. Congress to a bunch of prostitutes then publicly apologized to prostitutes for comparing them to the U.S. Congress. He also told House ethics committee members that he would like to “kick them in the crotch.”

If voters send him back to the Capitol, Traficant says he will work hard to eliminate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which was heavily involved in his criminal case because he filed false tax returns. “I will lead the charge to repeal the 16th amendment to the Constitution and abolish the Internal Revenue Service,” Traficant said this week. “I plan to throw you the hell out and give Americans some freedom,” he told the IRS at a media circus announcing his candidacy.

In an opinion piece, a journalist at Traficant’s hometown newspaper calls the disgraced politician a man who knows no shame. After seven-plus years in the federal penitentiary, not even those who are blinded by his anti-government screed would risk returning him to office, the reporter writes.


 


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