The speaker of the United States House of Representatives says a congressman who faces expulsion for ethics violations should resign before representatives vote to remove him. Speaker Dennis Hastert says an expulsion vote for James Traficant of Ohio would be a painful ordeal for all involved.
On Thursday, the House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct said Democratic Congressman James Traficant had committed nine violations of House ethics standards. Next week, the full House could make him only the second congressman since the mid-1800s to be expelled.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert hopes a vote will not be necessary. "And certainly, if he chose to resign, he would probably be better off, but that is up to him," he said.
Mr. Hastert was speaking to reporters Friday at a pork chop picnic for friends and supporters near his hometown in rural Illinois.
In April, a federal court found Congressman Traficant guilty of bribery, tax evasion and racketeering. Prosecutors recommend he serve at least seven years and three months for the conviction. Sentencing is July 30. The congressman says he is a victim of conspiracy, aimed at silencing him for criticizing the government.
Mr. Traficant would be allowed at least 30-minutes to plead his case before the U.S. Congress, before it votes whether to expel him. He has requested eight hours for what he says might be his last speech on the House floor. Mr. Traficant has a reputation for delivering bombastic speeches.
Mr. Hastert said the expulsion vote is a sad but necessary part of upholding the standards of the U.S. House. "If a member of the Congress does not stay under those standards, then he faces the ultimate of expulsion from the House," he said. "It appears that that happened in the Traficant situation, so the Congress has to do what it has to do. I think that is important for all of us to understand. It is probably the most painful thing to sit through as a member."
In 1980, Representative Michael Myers from Pennsylvania was expelled for accepting money from law enforcement officers during an undercover operation. Before that, no one had been expelled from the U.S. Congress since the American Civil War ended in 1865.