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Senior advocacy group gives Traficant lowest Dem score



Published: Sat, September 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



For his votes on Medicare and Social Security in 2001, the group gave him a score of 43 percent.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

WASHINGTON -- A national organization that promotes the preservation of Social Security and Medicare is probably not sorry that James A. Traficant Jr. is no longer a member of Congress.

Traficant, of Poland, has the dubious honor of receiving the lowest score during the 107th congressional session of any Democratic member of Congress from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. The organization serves as an advocate for those two programs.

The Democratic-leaning organization issued a score card examining key votes by members of Congress in 2001 and 2002 that affect Social Security, Medicare, prescription drug coverage and funding for senior programs.

Because of his criminal case, Traficant did not cast a vote of any kind in Congress this year. In 2001, the committee took into account seven votes from House members. Traficant voted with the organization on three of those votes for a score of 43 percent, the lowest figure for any congressional Democrat.

In comparison, every other Democrat in Ohio -- including U.S. Reps. Ted Strickland of Lucasville, Thomas C. Sawyer of Akron, and Sherrod Brown of Lorain -- received scores of 100 percent from the organization.

Voted with Republicans

During his final years in Congress, Traficant often crossed party lines to vote with Republicans. In 2001, he crossed party lines more than any other House Democrat.

The Social Security and Medicare score card, which heavily favors Democrats, proves that. The group, which ranked Traficant so low for the 107th Congress, gave him a respectable score of 67 percent for the 106th Congress, which ran from 1999 to 2000, and a high score of 92 percent for his votes during his first seven terms in the House.

Traficant was convicted April 11 of 10 felony counts including bribery, racketeering and tax evasion. The House expelled him July 24, making him only the fifth House member in U.S. history to be kicked out of office by his colleagues.

Traficant is running from his prison cell as an independent for the 17th Congressional District seat against Democrat Timothy J. Ryan of Niles and Republican Ann Womer Benjamin of Aurora.

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Madison Republican running to represent seven northern townships in Trumbull County, received a score of 25 percent, the lowest score given by the organization to any House member from Ohio.

Senators' scores

The state's two senators, Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, both Republicans, received scores of 27 percent and 7 percent, respectively, from the organization. Voinovich's score is the lowest given by the group to any member of Congress.

In Pennsylvania, U.S. Rep. Phil English, an Erie Republican who represents Mercer County, and U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, a Bradford Woods Republican who represents Lawrence County, each received scores of 31 percent.

The state's two senators, Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum, both Republicans, received scores of 53 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Specter's score was the second highest given to a Republican senator.

skolnick@vindy.com




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