James Traficant: convicted ex-congressman dies at 73.

James Traficant, Convicted Ex-Congressman Expelled by House, Dies at 73

James Traficant, Convicted Ex-Congressman Expelled by House, Dies at 73

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Sept. 27 2014 4:16 PM

James Traficant, Convicted Ex-Congressman Expelled by House, Dies at 73

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James Traficant testifies before the House ethics committee on Capitol Hill.

Photo by JOYCE NALTCHAYAN/AFP/Getty Images

James Traficant, the populist Ohio politician who served in the House of Representatives for 17 years before becoming the second person to ever be expelled from Congress since the Civil War, died on Saturday. He was 73. Traficant, who was convicted on corruption charges in 2002, died at a hospital in Youngstown on Saturday only days after suffering a tractor accident at his daughter’s farm, which left him in critical condition. Traficant was flown to the hospital Tuesday night “after a vintage tractor tipped over on him inside a barn at the farm in Green Township,” reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Police think the tractor tipped after Traficant struck a piece of farm equipment with a bar installed on the front of his 1943 Ford tractor.”

Family spokeswoman Heidi Hanni confirmed Traficant’s death to the Vindicator newspaper with a simple text message: “Traficant dead.” The news has since been confirmed by several other media outlets, including the Associated Press.

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Traficant was expelled from Congress in 2002 only three months after a federal jury in Cleveland convicted him on corruption charges. Before his expulsion, he was known as “a maverick Democrat” who “was one of the most deliberately outrageous members of Congress in history,” notes the Washington Post. Traficant’s anti-establishment rants were legendary—as was his penchant for ending his speeches on the House floor with “Beam me up.” His clothes also made him stand out, as did his “bouffant mound of hair that seemed to defy gravity.”

Traficant was released from prison in 2009 and tried to return to politics as an independent. But he was only able to muster 16 percent of the vote in 2010 and was beat by a former aide, Rep. Tim Ryan. If you feel like taking a walk down memory lane, the Vindicator publishes a photo gallery that includes some of the most memorable moments from Traficant’s colorful career.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.