Tue, 21 Mar 2000 

Traficant Vows To Fight Govt. Probe

By KATHERINE RIZZO, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. James Traficant pledged on the House floor Tuesday to ''fight like a junkyard dog'' against a Justice Department corruption investigation. 

''I'm announcing formally today that I'm once again a target of the Justice Department,'' the Ohio Democrat said, putting into the Congressional Record what he told voters back home in eastern Ohio more than a month ago. 

Federal authorities have not said whether Traficant is a target of a corruption investigation in Youngstown, Ohio, that has produced about 50 convictions, including a guilty plea from one of Traficant's longtime aides. 

Traficant has said a grand jury issued subpoenas for his office payroll, rent and telephone records. In his speech on the House floor, the eight-term Democrat noted he was acquitted once before when charged with corruption and dared prosecutors to ''bring it on.'' 

''I plan to fight like a junkyard dog,'' he said. 

Traficant's declaration was less dramatic than the pronouncement he made last month. Embroiled in the first serious election challenge of his career, Traficant told voters he expects to be indicted, then went on to win a four-way Democratic primary with 50 percent of the votes. 

He said FBI and Treasury Department investigators were querying unspecified ''technical issues'' that he suspects are linked to, among other things, his criticisms of the Internal Revenue Service and the handling of the 1993 Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas. 

On Tuesday, Traficant offered no theories about the motives of federal investigators but said he plans to introduce legislation setting up a new mechanism for investigating wrongdoing by the Justice Department. 

In 1983, Traficant beat federal charges of taking bribes from mobsters. Though he wasn't an attorney -- he's a former sheriff -- Traficant defended himself and argued successfully that he took $163,000 in mob money as part of a one-man sting operation designed to flush out mobsters. 

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