Traficant expulsion a good move

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 26, 2002

It’s almost a preposterous proposition.

Ohio Rep. James Traficant vociferously opposed the move in Congress to remove him from office, even after he was convicted of taking bribes and kickbacks.

He objected until the end, protesting his removal and arguing that he was innocent of the charges and should be allowed to continue serving in Congress.

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Finally, on Wednesday, the House voted to expel him, almost unanimously. He was only the second sitting representative to be expelled; only the fifth congressman in history. The lone voice of dissent: Rep. Gary Condit of California.

And we think it’s the right thing to do.

Traficant was convicted of a crime

of breaking laws, of cheating people and of violating their trust. His integrity is forever tarnished in that process.

But more important, we believe our elected officials should be men and women of integrity. In this era of scandal ­ from Bill Clinton’s escapades in the White House to the current corruption scandal plaguing corporate America ­ integrity and honesty are a rare commodity.

And, they should be a minimum expectation in our elected officials.

Congressional leaders are charged with setting laws, with setting examples, with using their judgment to best serve the constituents in their hometowns. And if their integrity is in doubt ­ particularly due to criminal convictions ­ we have to question their ability to serve and to lead well.

Congressman Traficant’s ranting and ravings ­ and his loud protests ­ were not just preposterous, but they were insulting to our nation.

We must insist on integrity in our elected officials.

And they must give us that.  

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