House Panel Drafts Traficant Violations List

The House ethics committee has sent Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, a draft list of alleged violations of House rules.

The list closely resembles the 10 federal bribery and tax evasion charges on which Traficant was convicted last month, according to Marc Steven Colucci, a lawyer from Youngstown, Ohio, serving as a Traficant spokesman.

Traficant, D-Ohio, was found guilty of taking kickbacks from his staff and bribes and gifts from businessmen. The convictions carry a maximum penalty of 63 years in prison. Sentencing is June 27.

After the conviction, the House ethics committee organized a bipartisan four-member panel to review transcripts and evidence from Traficant's trial to determine if House rules were violated.

"They just took the indictment and the points they found him guilty of and reformatted it for their system," Colucci said Wednesday in explaining the list of ethics charges sent to Traficant.

Under House rules, Traficant has at least 30 days to respond. After he does, a bipartisan eight-member panel will hold a hearing to determine whether to recommend penalties.

Expulsion, the most severe punishment, would require approval of two-thirds of the 435-member House.

Colucci said Traficant plans to fight the ethics charges and will use evidence he wasn't allowed to present at trial. Traficant has said he has taped conversations he claims prove prosecutors pressured witnesses to testify against him.

Traficant's congressional spokesman, Charles Straub, said the congressman will remain in Ohio until "he is afforded a chance to present his case before the ethics committee."

Traficant, who is free on bail, has not returned to Washington since his conviction. The ethics committee has warned he risks immediate expulsion should be show up at the Capitol to vote.

Traficant is seeking re-election as an independent. He has vowed to serve in Congress from a prison cell if elected.