By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — James A. Traficant Jr.’s return to national television was moved up to today.
The former 17-year congressman, released last week from federal prison, will appear on tonight’s “On the Record With Greta Van Susteren,” on Fox News. The one-hour show begins at 10 p.m.
Van Susteren came to the Mahoning Valley on Wednesday to conduct the face-to-face interview with Traficant, a Fox News spokeswoman said.
The interview was to be broadcast on the cable news station Friday, but was moved up a day.
Van Susteren and Traficant couldn’t be reached Wednesday to comment.
Traficant mentioned his appearance on Van Susteren’s show at a Sunday event at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman to celebrate his homecoming.
Traficant told the audience of more than 1,200 that he would make “some significant statements” on Van Susteren’s show.
He talked about a few of them Sunday: the loss of pensions and health-care insurance for Delphi’s retired salary employees; the ongoing case of John Demjanjuk, an elderly Cleveland-area man deported to Germany to stand trial as a Nazi concentration camp guard; and Nnamdi Okolo, a Nigerian national who Traficant claims refused to testify against him and the ex-congressman’s co-conspirator, Richard Detore. Detore was acquitted, and Okolo was deported.
Traficant said Sunday he couldn’t discuss those issues with “an opposing print media” in the Mahoning Valley because “I do not want [it] diluted or denuded here.”
Traficant appeared on Van Susteren’s show in April 2002 after being convicted on 10 felony counts in federal court.
Traficant was released Sept. 2 from federal prison after serving a sentence of more than seven years for racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.
Traficant insisted Sunday that he’s innocent and the federal government “had to cheat to convict me.”
A person on eBay is trying to cash in on Traficant by selling his autograph.
A seller, who calls himself “justcarlo” is seeking at least $50 for an appreciation dinner ticket signed by Traficant. As of Wednesday evening, there were no bidders for the item.
But he’s having more luck with a dinner program signed by the former congressman. He has one bid for $30 for the program.
Both bids end Sunday.
Traficant of Poland will also be the keynote speaker at a Taxed Enough Already party to protest government spending and taxation at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Firestone Park in Columbiana.
Anita Fraser of Salineville, president of the Tri-County TEA organization, said Traficant called her Tuesday to say he would speak at Saturday’s event about “national issues.”
Fraser attended Sunday’s welcome-home event for Traficant, and made initial contact with the former congressman there about speaking at the TEA party.
“I support him wholeheartedly,” Fraser said. “I’m very excited and honored” that Traficant will speak.
A similar event in Hanoverton in July drew a crowd of 1,500, and one in August in Canfield had about 700 to 900 in attendance, Fraser said. A TEA party also took place in Warren on Labor Day.
“This one is going to be bigger,” she said of the crowd — because Traficant is speaking.
Columbiana County Republican Chairman Dave Johnson, who is also speaking at Saturday’s event, said Traficant “will make it interesting.”
Johnson helped organize the Hanoverton TEA party and attended Traficant’s welcome-home event.
TEA parties nationwide have featured speakers discussing their objections to national health-care changes and government spending.