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POLITICAL CAMPAIGN FUNDS Most Traficant contributors not from Valley



Published: Wed, August 1, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The indicted congressman has $62,067 in his campaign war chest.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Most of the people and political committees who gave contributions this year to U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.'s campaign are not from the Mahoning Valley -- and a majority of them made their contributions after his indictment on racketeering, bribery and tax evasion charges.

Seventeen people, one party committee and three political action committees donated $11,150 to Traficant's campaign, according to his financial disclosure statement for Jan. 1 to June 30.

Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, also took in $14,679 -- most, if not all of which came from his $50-a-head May 25 fund-raiser and 50-50 raffle at McMenamy's banquet hall in Niles. It cost $4,500 for the use of McMenamy's, according to his financial report.

But during the first six months of the year, Traficant spent about $8,000 more than he received in contributions. Traficant finished 2000 with $69,936 in his campaign war chest. That figure is down to $62,067 as of June 30.

Comparisons: The $25,829 Traficant took in during the first six months of the year is about $5,000 less than he raised in the first half of 1999, the last off-election year for Congress. But Traficant's fund had $158,126 on June 30, 1999, almost $100,000 more than this year.

Much of the money Traficant had in 1999 went toward the funding of his 2000 campaign, which was the nine-term congressman's toughest re-election bid. Traficant spent $211,755 last year.

Most of the money Traficant received during the first six months of this year from individual and committee contributions were from non-Valley residents. For example, car dealer owner Walton Armour and his wife, Mary Lee, of Alliance each donated $1,000 to Traficant.

Percy Squire, a Columbus attorney running for Youngstown mayor, gave $1,000 to the congressman. Squire is Traficant's single largest contributor, giving the congressman $9,400 since 1995.

Bruce Zoldan, a fireworks company owner and Traficant's second-largest contributor, gave no money to the congressman during the first six months of this year.

Politician backers: Local politicians giving money to Traficant include: Mahoning County Commissioner David Ludt; the political action committees of Trumbull County Commissioner James Tsagaris and Niles Mayor Ralph A. Infante Jr., and the Columbiana County Democrats. Those contributions all came after Traficant's May 4 indictment.

Despite the indictment, Ludt, Tsagaris and Infante are vocal supporters of the congressman and attended his May 25 fund-raiser. The chairman of the Columbiana County Democrats is Dennis Johnson, a Traficant staffer.

Hagan's donors: The congressional committee of state Sen. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, who lost in the 2000 Democratic primary to Traficant and is considering another run, raised more money from political action committees than did the incumbent congressman.

Hagan, D-33rd, picked up $6,000 from PACs: $3,000 from the United Auto Workers and $1,000 each from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Boilermakers-Blacksmiths and the Communications Workers of America.

Traficant took in $800 from party and political action committees. He received $9,550 from PACs during the first half of 1999 and $73,616 in 2000.

The only other contribution Hagan received was $50 from an unidentified donor.

Hagan paid $3,000 to Burges and Burges Strategists Inc., a Cleveland consulting firm, for work the company did on his 2000 congressional campaign. He still owes the company $4,000.

Hagan has $3,797 in his campaign account.

Top money dog: Traficant's and Hagan's financial figures are small change in comparison with those of U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain, D-13th, whose district includes western Trumbull County.

Brown took in $506,406 in campaign contributions and spent $100,528 during the first six months of the year. Added to the $1,105,021 Brown already had in his war chest, the congressman has $1,510,899 at his disposal.

Brown is considering a gubernatorial run next year, but state law forbids the transfer of federal campaign funds to state campaigns.

Brown has received $181,441 from party and political action committees this year.

skolnick@vindy.com




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