Whopper of the Week: James Traficant
Just how innocent is he?
"I have committed no crimes. … There is no evidence."
—James Traficant, testifying before the House ethics committee on July 15. The committee voted unanimously to expel Traficant from the House on July 18. The previous April, Traficant was convicted on criminal charges of taking bribes and accepting payroll kickbacks from members of his congressional staff.
"If we do not have the money in 3 days, we are going to have to file a lawsuit to protect our interest."
—Letter from Anthony Bucci to his lawyer, John Spain, in October 1988, initiating a lawsuit against Traficant for nonpayment of $10,233 in work that Bucci's contracting business had done the year before on Traficant's family horse farm. Bucci never pursued the matter further. Click here, then scroll to the bottom and click "Selected Hearing Exhibits" to peruse the relevant documents (under "Count One," Items 6, 7, 8, and 9).
"Our Valley has been devastated with unemployment during the past ten years and [the Buccis'] disbarment will only add to the unemployment statistics in our area."
—Letter from Traficant to Transportation Secretary Federico Pena on May 20, 1993, urging that the Buccis' construction firm not be denied federal contracts. Click here, then scroll to the bottom and click "Selected Hearing Exhibits," then select (under "Count One") Item 17. Similar interventions by Traficant on Bucci's behalf, with Bucci's prison warden and with the Federal Highway Administration, can be observed in Items 14 and 16.
Q: "And what did Congressman Traficant respond when you told him that bill was a lot of money, and if you forgave the bill, you would expect to have favors?"
A: "The response was he understood, he agreed, and his comment to me was that I can do a lot more for you in return."
Q: "Mr Bucci, are you a person that parts with money easily, lightly?"
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.