By Pete Papaherakles —
On September 27, former United States Representative Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) passed away after suffering a terrible accident involving an antique tractor on his farm four days earlier. Those who knew the former congressman will always remember him for his larger-than-life personality, his even bigger heart, his warm smile, the twinkle in his eye, his sharp sense of humor and his bear hugs. He was one of the great patriots in this country’s history, much like populist President Andrew Jackson, Rep. William Jennings Bryan (D-Neb.), famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and Father Charles Coughlin.
Traficant was by far the most outspoken, honest, populist politician of our time. While representing Ohio’s 17th district in Congress for nine terms, he took on the special-interest forces behind the U.S. government, such as the privately owned and controlled Federal Reserve and the powerful Israeli lobby.
Unfortunately, though, Traficant had to pay the price for his principles. In 2002, he was railroaded into prison, serving seven and a half years on trumped-up charges of racketeering and corruption. Undaunted, he did his entire time in a hardcore, maximum-security federal prison without accepting a pardon extended to him if he publicly admitted that he was guilty.
“I told them to stick it up their assets,” he was fond of saying.
After his release from prison in 2009, Traficant gave an interview to AMERICAN FREE PRESS and started writing a weekly column for this newspaper. AFP has been proud to have had Traficant writing exclusively for us for five years.
Until the end, Traficant was committed to taking down what he saw as the greatest enemies to America’s liberty: the Federal Reserve and its enforcement arm, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
PROJECT FREEDOM USA, launched jointly in 2014 by Traficant and AFP, was designed to eliminate this two-headed monster and replace it with an entirely new free market system in the U.S.
It is tragic that Traficant was taken away so soon, before he was able to see his dream come true. He was only 73.
But like so many other great patriots who spent their lives fighting for liberty and against tyranny, Traficant’s legacy will live on forever as that of a great populist hero, who stood up for Main Street Americans against far greater powers that seek to exploit us.
‘Beam Me Up!’: Jim Traficant Remembered
By Pete Papaherakles
Jim Traficant was an all-American hero from the beginning. The son of a truck driver, he became the star quarterback for the University of Pittsburgh and even got drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, although his career was cut short. He earned two master’s degrees and became a drug and alcohol abuse counselor in Youngstown, eventually becoming the executive director of the Mahoning County Drug Program from 1971 to 1981. Following that, he was elected sheriff of Mahoning County from 1981 to 1985.
As sheriff, Traficant made national headlines by refusing to execute foreclosure orders on unemployed homeowners, many of whom had been left out of work by the closures of steel mills. This endeared him to the local population but also made him a target of the bankers.
In 1983, Traficant was charged with racketeering for accepting bribes. Jim, who fired his lawyers and represented himself in the criminal trial, argued that he accepted the bribes only as part of his own secret undercover investigation into corruption. He was acquitted of the charges, becoming the only person ever to win a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case while representing himself.
Publicity from the RICO trial turned out to be a major boon for Traficant’s popularity. In 1984, Traficant ran as a Democrat for the congressional seat in Ohio’s 17th District and won. He was reelected eight more times without serious opposition.
While serving in the House, Traficant became known for his unconventional style. His one minute speeches on the House floor were the most entertaining part of the day. He was a maverick who played by his own rules. He fought hard to bring federal funds back to his Ohio district, and he opposed illegal immigration, outsourcing American jobs and abortion among other things. He even voted against Democrats if he didn’t agree with them—and paid the price.
In his 17 years in Congress, Traficant spent most of his time working to either eliminate or reorganize the IRS. Americans owe him a great deal for the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, which, among other things, put the burden of proof on the IRS to prove wrongdoing. The law required the IRS to have a court order before it can seize property or enforce a summons. It took steps to guarantee Americans due process when dealing with the IRS and forced the IRS to cease identifying those of us who resist the income tax as “illegal tax protestors.”
The Ohio congressman was also targeted for saving John Demjanjuk from the clutches of the Holocaust industry and bringing him home safely from Israel where he was unjustly sentenced to hang, an act of defiance his enemies would never forget.
TRAFICANT’S FINAL DAYS
On Saturday, September 27, 2014, at 11:30 a.m., a great American patriot took his last breath. James A. Traficant Jr., former Ohio congressman, AFP columnist and dear friend, passed away at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, Ohio. It was a tragic loss for the patriot movement, for all those whose lives he touched, especially his family, and most of all, a tragic loss for America. It was also a huge loss for AMERICAN FREE PRESS, whose pages Jim has been gracing with a weekly column since 2009.
Traficant died of injuries sustained while driving his 1943 Ford tractor into the barn on his farm in Goshen Township, near Youngstown, on the evening of September 23.
This reporter found out from Goshen Police Chief Steven T. McDaniel that, “Traficant lost control of his tractor after hitting a large steel blade with the front of the tractor. This caused the tractor to roll over backward and entrap him underneath the tractor.” Unfortunately, the antique tractor was not equipped with a roll bar.
Andrew Thomson, a man from nearby Mercer, Pennsylvania, who had been looking to buy some old farm equipment from Traficant, was nearby when the accident occurred and called 9-1-1 immediately. A transcript of his call shows he dialed 9-1-1 by 7:53 and told the dispatcher, “Tractor rolled over on him. He’s incoherent . . . I’m afraid to move him. You know I don’t . . . he’s pinned under it.” Asked if Traficant was breathing, Thompson replied, “I couldn’t see him breathing. No. He was unconscious.”
This reporter spoke with Goshen Township Fire Chief Todd Baird, who said that, after arriving, it took his crew about 15 minutes to pull the tractor off of Traficant and get him to nearby Salem Regional Hospital. From there, he was flown by helicopter to St. Elizabeth’s in Youngstown.
This newspaper also spoke with Traficant’s wife Tish at the hospital the following day. She told us that Traficant was completely unconscious and that his face and ribs were badly crushed.
She was not very optimistic about his survival and felt he was “only being kept alive by the machines.” At 2 p.m. on Friday, September 26, Traficant was taken off life support but still managed to maintain a heartbeat and breathe on his own, which gave everyone a surge of hope. A local news report said he was even snoring.
Linda Kovatchik, Traficant’s faithful assistant over the last few years, who had been at the hospital with the family during the whole ordeal, told this reporter on Friday afternoon, “Jim’s too hardheaded—too stubborn—to die. If anyone can come out of this, it’s Jim Traficant.”
People continued to pray for Jim.
But hope was short lived. The injuries proved to be too great for even Big Jim to overcome, and by the next day he couldn’t hold on any longer. At 11:30 a.m., Traficant passed away. He was finally “beamed up” for real.
A Larger-Than-Life Man
By Victor Thorn
They call it charisma, and Jim Traficant possessed this quality more than any other person I’ve ever met. Great orators lead nations, and Traficant’s voice—the voice of one of America’s authentic sons from its heartland—could have led this country to greater heights.
Following Jim’s speech at the July 19 PROJECT FREEDOM USA conference, I told him that I’d seen Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Ron Paul and Barack Obama give political speeches, but none of them even remotely compared to his presence.
In his usual way, Jim humbly laughed off my comment. But I was completely serious. When Jim stood before a crowd of people, he captured the room with his booming voice, sense of humor and pizzazz. Every person present sat captivated, likely as did congressmen years earlier who listened to Jim’s legendary one-minute addresses on the House floor.
Charisma acts as a magnet, and at the half dozen events I attended with Jim, everyone flocked to be near him. At a Los Angeles luncheon, I watched with amazement as Jim held court at a large roundtable. Larger than life, he mesmerized fans, who clung to his every word. Similarly, at an Altoona, Pennsylvania book signing, once shoppers heard Jim start telling stories, the entire store gravitated to surround him. Although it’s a cliché, Jim was undoubtedly “the Man.”
In an era in which Americans are largely jaded to their leaders, those who knew Jim realized that if given the chance, he would have guided our country with a vim and vigor unmatched by any other statesman.
An Inspiration to All Americans
By Paul T. Angel
Congressman Jim Traficant was one of the most inspirational men I have ever met. Just being around the man made people feel important. Whether it was the “patented” Traficant bear hug or the constant verbal encouragement, Traficant had a way of getting themost out of the people he worked with. And he was the only congressman in the modern era with the backbone to take on the most powerful lobby in the world—the Jewish lobby. Others have taken them on in past decades, but not in this age of political correctness (PC); not like Jim.
To do so in this PC age meant most assuredly the death of any political aspirations Jim had for higher office. But he didn’t care. He was interested in warning the American people about threats to this nation; he was interested in the truth.
The same dedication to the truth he showed as a congressman and as a private citizen is exactlywhy he was a political pariah. That and the fact he had the audacity to rescue an innocent man from an Israeli gallows, that man was John Demjanjuk, who stood accused of being a “Nazi mass murderer.”
Many people may not realize it, but Jim’s death is a great blow to this nation. I doubt we will see the likes of Jim Traficant ever again. But I have no doubt, right now, he is standing outside the Pearly Gates, lecturing St. Peter on how to make Heaven a better place. And if anybody can do it, Jim can.
And I am also sure that if Jim had been running this country, there is no way we would be in the mess we are in today. He simply wouldn’t have allowed it. That is why I amencouraging all of you to continue to support PROJECT FREEDOM USA. Jim laid the groundwork for this national organization, and nowit is up to his recruits to carry on. But they do need help. Please visit ProjectFreedomUSA.org to see how you can be of service.
Jim, we’re going to miss you. Your family is going to miss you. But even more importantly, an entire generation of Americans is going to miss your inspiration. We promise to do our best to carry on your work.