-Caveat Lector-


Traficant Defects, Booted Out of Democratic Caucus

Wednesday, January 3, 2001

WASHINGTON ?  Following through on a months-long threat,
Democratic Ohio Rep.  James Traficant defected from his party and
voted to re-elect Republican Dennis Hastert as House speaker.

Republicans gave a standing ovation Wednesday after Traficant
cast the vote.  Some Democrats stood and applauded, too,
apparently glad the unpredictable congressman now is aligned with
the GOP.

Rep.  Gene Taylor, D-Miss., also abandoned Minority Leader Dick
Gephardt, D-Mo., voting instead for Rep.  John Murtha, D-Pa.
Taylor, a conservative who has clashed with Gephardt, did not say
why he voted for Murtha.

While Taylor remains a part of the Democratic caucus, Traficant
is out after 16 years.  It now will be up to the Republican
majority to decide which committee seats he gets.

Traficant brushed off most questions as he left the House
chamber, but in response to one query said he would consider
himself "an independent Democrat."

Traficant is a well-known free sprit on Capitol Hill.  Sporting
unruly hair and polyester suits, he often takes to the House
floor for one-minute rants, which he usually ends by saying,
"Beam me up."

During a floor speech last March, Traficant pledged to "fight
like a junkyard dog" against a Justice Department corruption
investigation.  Federal authorities have not said whether
Traficant is a target of the investigation in his hometown of
Youngstown.  The investigation has produced about 50 convictions,
including a guilty plea from one of Traficant's longtime aides.

In 1983, Traficant beat federal charges of taking bribes from
mobsters.  Though he wasn't an attorney ?  he's a former sheriff
?  Traficant defended himself and argued successfully that he
took $163,000 in mob money as part of a one-man sting operation
designed to flush out mobsters.

Despite the investigation, Traficant easily won election to a
ninth term in November.

Traficant rarely attended Democratic caucus meetings over the
years, and he distanced himself almost completely from his
Democratic colleagues after a bitter primary battle last March.
Traficant claimed Democratic Party leaders sided with a rival in
that race, though party officials denied that.

Meanwhile, he was forging relationships with Republicans and even
injected himself into a thorny partisan debate, crashing a
meeting of Republicans last June to deliver his opinion that if
GOP members killed a minimum wage bill they would be more likely
to lose their majority in the upcoming election.

             Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, YHVH, TZEVAOT

                     *Michael Spitzer*  <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
  The Best Way To Destroy Enemies Is To Change Them To Friends

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