The House ethics committee's ranking Democrat said Detore testified about events of which he knew nothing.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Despite what some say was compelling testimony, three members of the U.S. House ethics committee that recommended the expulsion of James A. Traficant Jr. said they were not impressed by Richard E. Detore.
"I didn't find Detore to be a credible witness," said U.S. Rep. Gene Green, a Houston Democrat. "He was out of the loop on many issues, and I didn't find him to be credible on the issues he discussed."
Detore, Traficant's co-defendant and the former congressman's star witness during his ethics hearing, "spoke with assurance about events he knew nothing about," said U.S. Rep. Howard L. Berman of North Hollywood, Calif., the ranking Democratic member on the committee.
Their statements were made Wednesday on the floor of the House during Traficant's expulsion hearing.
U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Madison, Ohio, Republican and close friend of Traficant's, said the allegations Detore made of prosecutorial misconduct were disturbing.
LaTourette, an ethics committee member, said they should have been enough to postpone Wednesday's vote to expel Traficant.
Detore, a Virginia engineer, testified for about four hours last week in front of the ethics panel without immunity. His criminal case goes to trial Nov. 12.
U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat who watched most of Detore's testimony, was so bothered by it that he sent a letter to the Justice Department earlier this week asking that its office of professional responsibility investigate Detore's claims.
But U.S. Rep. Kenny C. Hulshof of Columbia, Mo., a Republican and ethics committee member, said the committee rejected Detore's testimony.
"Mr. Detore exonerated himself, and yet he offered no defense to Mr. Traficant's kickback scheme," he said.
The ethics committee found Traficant guilty last week of nine of the 10 counts he faced of violating the House's code of conduct. The only charge dismissed was one that mirrored the racketeering count in Traficant's criminal case.
The committee found Traficant guilty of a count related to a scheme devised among the former congressman, Detore and others. Traficant was also convicted of that count by a federal jury.