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POLITICAL SURVEY 2 get low grades from watchdogs



Published: Sat, July 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. scored higher than any other Ohio Democratic member of Congress in the survey.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- U.S. Reps. Ted Strickland and Thomas C. Sawyer are "hostile to taxpayers," based on an analysis of their voting record by a conservative-leaning organization that speaks out against government waste, fraud and abuse.

But U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., convicted of selling and abusing his office for personal gain, is considered "lukewarm to taxpayers," says a survey conducted by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste of Washington, D.C.

The council rated members of Congress on 27 votes in the House and 20 votes in the Senate on issues including estate tax, marriage tax, capital gains tax, the president's $1.35 billion tax cut, anti-terrorism legislation, agricultural issues and pork-barrel spending.

The council is best known for awarding its "Porker of the Month" to lawmakers, government officials and political candidates the organization believes best exemplify government waste and a blatant disregard for taxpayers' interests.

Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat running in a congressional district that includes Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County, received a score of 7 percent for his votes last year by the council. His lifetime rating by the council is 18 percent.

Sawyer, an Akron Democrat who lost the Democratic primary for the 17th Congressional District that includes portions of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, received a score of 4 percent -- the lowest by any Ohio member of Congress -- from the council for 2001 and has a lifetime rating of 19 percent.

High score

Traficant, a Poland Democrat running as an independent for the 17th District, scored the highest among Ohio Democrats in the survey and even did better than a few Ohio Republicans.

Traficant's score for last year by the council was 59 percent, and he has a 37 percent lifetime score from the organization.

U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Lorain Democrat who represents western Trumbull County through the end of the year, received a score for last year of 15 percent, which the organization considers being hostile to taxpayers, and a lifetime rating of 30 percent.

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Madison Republican running in a congressional district that includes seven northern Trumbull County townships, received a score of 56 percent for last year, considered lukewarm to taxpayers, and a lifetime rating of 61 percent.

Ohio's two senators -- Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, both Republicans -- are considered taxpayer friendly by the group, which gave them scores for last year of 75 percent and 79 percent, respectively. DeWine's lifetime rating is 73 percent and Voinovich's is 69 percent.

In Pennsylvania, its two senators as well as U.S. Reps. Phil English and Melissa Hart, all Republicans, are also considered taxpayer-friendly by the council for their votes last year.

English, of Erie, who represents Mercer County, received a score of 74 percent for last year and a 67 percent lifetime score. Hart, of Bradford Woods, who represents Lawrence County, received a score of 70 percent for 2001, her first year in Congress.

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum received a score of 79 percent last year and has a 78 percent lifetime score. U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter got a score of 60 percent last year and has a 52 percent lifetime score.

skolnick@vindy.com




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