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THE NATION

Traficant's Seat in House Will Remain Vacant

July 26, 2002|From Reuters

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Robert A. Taft said Thursday he would not call a special election to fill the remaining months of Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.'s term, citing what he said were excessive costs to taxpayers.

Traficant was expelled by the House on Wednesday by a 420-1 vote for ethics violations stemming from his conviction on federal charges of bribery, kickbacks and tax evasion.

Before he went on trial, Traficant's district in northeast Ohio was carved up as the state reshuffled boundary lines to account for the loss of one House seat because of U.S. population shifts.

Traficant, a nine-term Democrat, plans to run as an independent in a new district that includes a chunk of his old one. But his expulsion left his current district, which will exist on paper only until January, without a representative.

Taft said it would cost $800,000 to hold a special election to fill Traficant's seat until his term would have expired in January.

Such an election "could result in significant cost and has the potential for wide-scale voter confusion.... It is simply unfair to ask these taxpayers to expend such an enormous amount of money to elect a representative who would serve them only a few weeks," Taft said in a written statement.

Traficant is only the second House member since the Civil War to be tossed out of Congress.

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