With the expulsion of James A. Traficant Jr. from the U.S. House of Representatives, the Mahoning Valley finds itself without a congressman.
Q: Who will take care of constituent services in the 17th Congressional District?
A: Traficant's staff will continue to provide those services. His staff in Washington, D.C., and locally will not lose their jobs. They will now report to the clerk of the House, which took over his office shortly after the expulsion vote Wednesday, and will remain on staff, if they choose, until a new congressman is elected. His district offices in Youngstown, Niles and Canfield will remain open. Traficant closed his East Liverpool office a few months ago. Also, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat, and other Ohio congressmen have said they are willing to offer their assistance to the Valley if asked.
Q: If Traficant's conviction is overturned, can he be reinstated to the House?
A: No. As U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Madison Republican and Traficant friend said, expulsion from the House is the political equivalent of the death penalty. The House has no authority to reinstate Traficant under any circumstances.
Q: Are Traficant's salary and benefits cut off immediately?
A: Yes, Traficant will no longer receive his $150,000 annual salary nor his benefits. Also, he no longer has any authority over district staffers.
Q: How long does Traficant have to clear out his belongings from his offices?
A: An aide said Traficant would be given a reasonable amount of time, about a week, to get his stuff out.
Q: Will Traficant be able to keep his congressional pension benefits?
A: A congressman can only lose his pension benefits if convicted of treason. Traficant will receive about $39,000 annually.
Q: Is Traficant still permitted to run in the November general election even if he is in a federal prison outside Ohio?
A: An Ohio Secretary of State's Office official says Traficant probably would be permitted to run under those circumstances, but the question will probably end up in court for a final decision.
Q: Would Traficant be the first member of Congress to be elected from a prison cell?
A: No. Matthew Lyon of Vermont was re-elected at the end of the 18th century while serving a four-month jail sentence for violating the Alien and Sedition Acts.