James A. Traficant Jr., colorful Ohio congressman expelled by House, dies at 73

Washington Post – by Matt Schudel

James A. Traficant Jr., an iconoclastic nine-term Ohio populist in the U.S. House of Representatives who was convicted on corruption charges in 2002, becoming the second member of Congress to be expelled since the Civil War, died Sept. 27 at a hosptial in Youngstown, Ohio. He was 73.

A family spokeswoman, Heidi Hanni, confirmed his death to reporters. The former congressman was injured in a tractor accident on his farm near Greenford, Ohio, on Tuesday. A former aide told reporters in Ohio that he apparently had a heart attack while driving the tractor, which overturned inside a building and left the former congressman trapped underneath.  

Mr. Traficant, a maverick Democrat who found his own path politically and seemingly in everything else, was one of the most deliberately outrageous members of Congress in history. Glib and voluble, he was known for wearing cowboy boots, skinny ties and out-of-date polyester suits and for a bouffant mound of hair that seemed to defy gravity.

Reporters outdid themselves in trying to describe Mr. Traficant’s pompadour — and to determine whether it was real. In the words of the Los Angeles Times, it was a “Planet of the Apes sort of hair helmet” or, as Washingtonian magazine put it, “a creature from Lake Erie before it was cleaned up.”

Before he served in Congress, Mr. Traficant was elected sheriff of Mahoning County in 1980. Youngstown, the county seat, was a down-on-its-luck steel city in northeastern Ohio that lost thousands of jobs in the 1960s and 1970s. Fought over by mobsters from nearby Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Youngstown was called “Crimetown, U.S.A.” by the Saturday Evening Post magazine in the 1960s.

A fiery advocate for the disenfranchised, Mr. Traficant became a local folk hero when he went to jail for three days rather than obey a court order to foreclose on the homes of unemployed mill workers.

In 1983, he went on trial for corruption, charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Federal prosecutors had tapes of Mr. Traficant admitting that he accepted more than $100,000 in bribes from organized crime figures.

Although he had no legal training, an undaunted Mr. Traficant acted as his own attorney and outwitted the lawyers making the case against him. He argued that he had collected the bribes as part of sting operation he was conducting in order to trap gangsters in the act.Mr. Traficant was acquitted.

A year later, in 1984, he was elected to Congress. He brought federal money to his struggling district, but Mr. Traficant also used his congressional seat as a bully pulpit to state personal grievances about what he considered government overreach.

He became known for his rambling, sometimes crude rhetoric during short speeches on the House floor, often ending his free-association commentaries with a reference to “Star Trek”: “Beam me up, Mr. Speaker.”

“Let us tell it like it is,” he said in 1997. “When you hold this economy to your nosey, this economy does not smell so rosy. If there is any consolation to the American workers, I never heard of anyone committing suicide by jumping out of a basement window.”

Complaining about U.S. support for other countries, he said in 1998: “Russia gets $15 billion in foreign aid from Uncle Sam. In exchange, Uncle Sam gets nuclear missiles pointed at our cities, two tape decks and three cases of vodka. Beam me up.”


17 thoughts on “James A. Traficant Jr., colorful Ohio congressman expelled by House, dies at 73

  1. This is very sad news. I met Jim at ConspiracyCon 2012, where he gave a presentation. We ended up at the same table in the bar the first night, and talked for a couple hours. Very intelligent gentleman, with a great sense of humor. An outstanding patriot as well.

    RIP, Jim. You will be missed.

    1. How fortunate you are to have met him #1. I always admired him. He, among others, is responsible for the beginning of my waking up.

  2. Terribly sad. Another defender of the truth. He was spearheading an effort
    of grassroots patriots to end the financial tyranny that is strangling
    our nation. He always had a commentary in AFP newspaper.

        1. Too little, too late, I’m afraid, even if he hadn’t died.

          Also, I’m wondering about this ‘accident’. I just saw that ‘apparently’ he had a heart attack, and the tractor turned over in the barn, pinning him.

          Matt Simmons, the BP whistleblower, also APPARENTLY had a heart attack, and died.


          1. Yes . . . that’s true. It’s a real weapon.

            First Traficant has a heart attack (suspicious) then the tractor overturns? … in the barn?
            . . .

          2. Having serious doubts about this one, Cathleen.

            But then again, I have a highly suspicious nature.

            But they’ve got priors.

  3. Thanks, Cathleen, for connecting the dots.

    This is from ProjectFreedomuSA.org:

    “…The time has come for a new financial program to empower all Americans and save our nation.

    This is the plan of Project Freedom USA:
    1. Eliminate all income and payroll taxes.
    2. Replace income taxes and payroll taxes with a flat 15 percent National Retail Sales Tax on all new goods and services.
    3. Repeal the 16th Amendment of our Constitution.
    4. Abolish the Internal Revenue Service.
    5. The contractual relationship with the Federal Reserve System is cancelled, thus placing all monetary policy back under the control of Congress as mandated by our Constitution.
    6. All purchases of our Bonds and Treasury Bills will be paid.
    7. All debt owed to the Federal Reserve as interest is hereby repudiated.
    8. Congress shall issue debt free, interest-free money for the nation, backed by our gold, silver, national assets, as well as the goods and services made available by American businesses, and the full faith and confidence in our powerful economy.

    The National Retail Sales Tax Will:
    1. End all withholding. Workers would get their entire pay, thus empowered to make their own financial decisions instead of having Washington politicians making such choices for them.
    2. No more Inheritance or Gift Taxes.
    3. No more Tax on Savings of any type.
    4. No more Corporation Tax. This tax is paid by consumers in the final analysis. This tax also makes America’s companies weak and non-competitive, forcing them to leave America.
    5. No more Capital Gains Tax, Yes, NONE!! We want to reward those who invest in America, that’s what creates jobs.
    6. No more tax on used goods.
    7. No more tax on Social Security and Medicare. The 15% National Sales Tax will fund both programs.
    8. No tax on investments.

    You must consider that only 53 percent of eligible taxpayers actually pay any income tax. How much more can workers pay? The sales tax would be paid by all. Drug dealers, illegal immigrants and foreign visitors would all be paying into our General Fund and Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund.

    There would be no more tax evasion. The vast criminal underground would now pay taxes. The visitors from Europe and Japan and China would all pay taxes with their spending privileges. The rich spend more, so they will pay more taxes.

    No more:
    • Tax forms • Liens • Seizures
    • Tax Trials • Garnishments
    • Tax Lawyers
    • Tax Accountants
    • April 15 Deadlines
    • Late Charges
    • Penalties
    • Fear
    • Slavery

    … Project Freedom USA mandates the following governments actions:
    1. Reduce the size of our government by 30 percent.
    2. Eliminate:
    • The Department of Education
    • The Department of Energy
    • The Environmental Protection Agency
    • The Office of Homeland Security
    • Any other government programs that can be handled by the respective states ….”

    He was promoting putting the OBN and banksters out of business in uSA. So he died of a “heart attack” and a “tractor falling over on him.” (How many agents does it take to make a tractor fall over?)

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