Hagan: Give Traficant a break



COLUMBUS — A Youngstown lawmaker is writing a letter to the president seeking the early release of disgraced former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-33rd, was so outraged by the sentence commutation of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby earlier this week that he’s formally offering the suggestion to President George W. Bush, and is considering introducing a statewide resolution doing the same.

“It would seem to me that a man who has jeopardized the safety and life of a CIA agent, who lied to Congress and lied to a grand jury to protect the president and vice president, should serve some jail time,” Hagan said. “If they’re going to release [Libby], they should release Jim Traficant from prison, as well. Jim Traficant’s crimes paled in comparison to what Libby did on an international scale.”

Traficant, 66, of Poland, was sentenced to eight years in prison July 30, 2002. A jury in U.S. District Court in Cleveland convicted him of racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

A week before Traficant was sentenced, the U.S. House of Representatives expelled him. His colleagues concluded that he violated three conduct rules based on certain elements in his criminal conviction.

He is incarcerated at the federal medical center in Rochester, MN. His projected release is Sept. 2, 2009.

There’s no love lost between Hagan and Traficant, former election opponents.

“I’m no fan of his,” Hagan said. “I think what he did for the 10 counts he was found guilty of was a horrible reflection on public officials and on public service, as well.”

But, he said, Traficant’s misdeeds are no worse than those of former top aide Libby, who was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury and was sentenced to more than two years in prison.

Hagan said the president’s decision to spare Libby from jail time is a further example of how high-level government officials are protected, even when they lie.

“I’m writing a letter to him, and hopefully I’ll get a resolution ready and ask my colleagues to sign on, as well,” Hagan said.

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