Profilers call him flamboyant, analysts call him powerful, constituents call him beloved. But whatever the term, Rep. Daniel J. Flood (D-Pa.) is an original.
The congressman from Wilkes-Barre yesterday achieved another kind of distinction - indictment by a federal grand jury on three counts of perjury.
If the months of speculation that preceded the grand jury action in Los Angeles, suggesting he was in big trouble, bothered him. Flood never let on.
Even in these times of turmoil, Flood didn't stop smiling or curb his nest for the well-turned phrase or the line that would draw a laugh.
Last year, testifying at the bribery trial of his former aide, Stephen B. Elko, Floor was describing Hurricane Agnes, which devastated his district in 1972.
The courtroom was enthralled.
"You know how girls are," he said, "they change their minds. She went upstate and came back down and 'Bang.' It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. I do not mean to sound humorous, your honor, . . ."
"We need some," said the judge.
Flood typically, was no stage in that California courtroom. Other parts of his testimony in the Elko trial allegedly led to yesterday's indictment.
For years, Dan Flood has been bringing smiles to the House with his soaring oratory (he's a former actor) and his appeals to heart and conscience in the name of the downtrodden.
Flood is cast into that position by his chairmanship of the Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health, education and welfare, dealing this year with an appropriation on the order of $75 billion.
Virtually every federal program that touches the lives of individuals, be they blue-collar workers or academicians or welfare recipients, comes under the eye of Flood's subcommittee.
And that - punchuated by legislators' fears that Flood will emasculate a favorite program - has made the 15-term Democrat one of the genuine powers of the House.
Bills are crafted, deals struck and arrangements made in the legislative channels to avoid offense to, or comfrontation with, Flood.
Reed-thin and short, the 74-year-old Flood has nurtured his image as a flamboyant eccentric.He affects a villain's waxed mustache, loads his fingers with rings. He is as apt to show up among his constituents in vanila suit and black tie as he is in top hat and cape.
Although Flood is unlikely to be tried soon, his indictment could pose a serious threat to his chairmanship when a new Congress convenes in January - assuming he is reelected.
At home in the 11th District, Flood appears equally as popular today as he was in 1976, when he won 71 percent of the vote. Friends and allies see the investigations of his activities as the spiteful work of little men.
As a champion in Washington for the economically hard-pressed district, Flood has helped pour millions of dollars of federal assistance into Wilkes-Barre and enviorns.
The investigations into his activities, not coincidentally, are related to the things Flood allegedly did and the means he pursued to help the folks at home.