Traficant Collects Campaign Donations From Behind Bars

Though former Rep. James Traficant is sitting in a Pennsylvania prison cell, he is still collecting campaign donations from supporters across the country.

Reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission this week showed that Traficant's campaign received $26,308 in gifts between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Traficant, D-Ohio, was expelled from the U.S. House on July 24 after he was convicted in a federal court of racketeering, bribery and tax evasion. He is serving an eight-year sentence in prison while also running for re-election to his old seat as an independent.

Lloyd D. Emch, a retired telephone company worker from Wadsworth, Ohio, says he believes Traficant has the kind of political backbone needed to help the blue-collar northeast Ohio district he represented in Congress for 18 years.

"I have empathy for him. I do not feel that he got a fair trial," said Emch. The former Youngstown resident is one of three people who gave Traficant's campaign $1,000 donations.

Las Vegas hotel owner Edgar Wrenn and Mesquite, Nev., retiree Shirley Packer also gave the campaign $1,000 each. Immants Lukis, a retired construction worker from Tinley Park, Ill., sent the campaign $110 over the summer and $100 before that, records show.

"I don't really know him, but I'm quite a fan of his. I've noticed the courage he's shown trying to stick up for people," said Lukis. "I believe he was railroaded."

The remaining donations were smaller gifts, many accompanied by cards or good luck notes, campaign treasurer Robert Barrett said.

During the same reporting period, the campaign spent $11,707 for expenses and campaign materials, which included T-shirts, bumper stickers and a newspaper advertisement.

Traficant had $48,345 left to spend in his race against Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican Ann Womer Benjamin in the Nov. 5 election. The total includes funds raised earlier in the year.