CLEVELAND – Former U.S. Rep. James Traficant, expelled from Congress in 2002 after his bribery and racketeering conviction, is now dabbling in watercolors and acrylic rather than politics.
Traficant, who served nine terms in the House representing the Youngstown area, spends his time in federal prison painting.
He's selling 12 paintings, which feature pastoral scenes and horses, for $140 to $205 on the Web site www.beammeupart.com. The site's name comes from Traficant's practice of ending his often flamboyant congressional speeches by saying "Beam me up!"
Cleveland-area painter and art critic Doug Utter wasn't impressed by Traficant's artwork.
"There's no overwhelming talent or expertise in evidence," Utter said.
He pointed out that Traficant, known for 1970s-style suits and unkempt hair that turned out to be a toupee, draws the horses with flowing hair.
"His emphasis on manes and tails is almost fetishistic," Utter said.
Traficant was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of charges he received gifts and free labor from businessmen for his political help, and took cash kickbacks and free labor from staff. He represented himself at trial, although he is not a lawyer.
The Web site said people wishing to send money to underwrite Traficant's art career can mail it to him at the federal hospital prison in Rochester, Minn.