Bidders Pony Up Big Bucks for Traficant Horses

By Al Kamen
Friday, January 13, 2006

A longtime Loop favorite, the iconic former congressman James A. Traficant Jr. (D-Ohio), who's serving his eight-year sentence for racketeering and bribery, is making it big in the art world.

The nine-term congressman, former sheriff and horse breeder, who ended his House floor rants with the "Star Trek" phrase "Beam me up," went to prison in 2002 but began painting just last year at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn.

Then an item in the Cleveland Plain Dealer a couple of days ago may have re-catapulted him to fame. The article noted there were 12 Traficant paintings offered through a Web site run by a supporter -- http://www.beammeupart.com -- for $140 to $205.

But all those paintings have been sold! What's more, most of his paintings listed on eBay are fetching more than $500 each and are likely to rocket higher as word spreads. We're told 10 more will soon be available.

The Web site says he "took to 'art' like a duck to water." Well, maybe the ducks do a bit better. Most of Traficant's acrylic and watercolor paintings are of barns or horses. The horses all have large, flowing manes and outsize coiffed tails. Kinda reminds you of that spectacular, huge toupee for which he was justly famous.

One Last, Before It's Thing of the Past?

Lawmakers, staff members and industry folks are having a wonderful time at the American Airport Association Executives conference in Hawaii, according to daily blogs from John Carr , president of the Air Traffic Controllers Association.

"This evening Ken Montoya and I accompanied a dozen staffers out to dinner for some shop talk and a decent meal," Carr reported Monday night, referring to the ATCA lobbyist. "I won't divulge who went or who paid unless you subpoena me because recent lobbying scandals have everybody ducking for cover.

"In fact, I hazard to guess that new ethics legislation will rocket through Congress when they get back after the State of the Union address, with each side trying to out-honest the other," he said. "The results will be draconian, and meetings like this one will become a thing of the past."

Hey, let's be optimistic. And there's no need for a subpoena. Just have Transportation Department Inspector General Ken Mead paddle across the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel pool and make a note of everyone gathering at the tiki bar.

Carr offered "congratulations" to Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.), and to several House members, including Republicans Joe Knollenberg (Mich.), Daniel E. Lungren (Calif.), John J. Duncan Jr. (Calif.) and Democrats Martin O. Sabo (Minn.) and Ed Pastor (Ariz.), for courageously attending this critical gathering, which is always held in Hawaii in January, what with all the recent news about certain lobbyists.

Congratulations to Carr, too, for letting us know which lawmakers were there -- something that's often nearly impossible to discover in real time. (Maybe the "draconian" new legislation, if it doesn't ban these outings, might require timely, searchable online disclosure of all members and staff members who are attending?)

Carr had one grievous setback. "Tragedy struck at noon when I was forced to withdraw from the golf tournament, held on the volcanic and spectacular Hapuna Prince Golf Course." He has back problems.


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