Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 26, 2015

Posts by David Hawkings

3 Posts

May 6, 2015

Former Speaker Jim Wright Dead at 92

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jim Wright, the 56th speaker of the House and the only one ever forced out of office by scandal, died Wednesday. He was 92 and died in his native Fort Worth, Texas, which he represented for more than 34 years until his resignation in 1989.

Wright was widely perceived as one of the strongest leaders of the post-war period during much of his single full term as speaker, during the 100th Congress. But the Texas Democrat was gone after just 29 months on the job, succumbing to a rapidly mounting series of allegations he’d violated House rules limiting gifts to lawmakers, as well as members’ outside income and business interests. Full story

September 27, 2014

James Traficant Dies Following Tractor Accident

James Traficant in 2002. He died Saturday at the age of 73. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

James Traficant in 2002. He died Saturday at the age of 73. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

James A. Traficant Jr., an Ohio Democrat whose career as a colorfully combative congressional gadfly ended in 2002 when he became the fifth House member ever expelled, died Saturday at a hospital in his native Youngstown. He was 73 and had been critically injured Sept. 23, when the tractor he was driving at his family farm flipped over.

That horse farm was a central location along the trail of low-impact corruption that caught up with Traficant 17 years after he started playing the part of the most bombastic populist at the Capitol. He was convicted of conspiring to commit bribery, seeking and taking illegal gratuities, racketeering, obstructing justice and lying on his tax returns. Among Traficant’s crimes were having members of his House staff do work on the farm (and the boat he kept there) while on congressional time, and doing official-business favors for a pair of construction contractors in return for their sprucing up his 76-acre spread.

Almost all members convicted of felonies have decided to resign rather than endure the additional humiliation of expulsion. But Traficant refused to depart sooner than he had to, wanting the last word in front of the TV cameras — and the maximum number of paydays — before his colleagues voted 420-1 to kick him out of the House.

His final appearance in the well was characteristic of his rhetorical style, that is, long on flamboyance but lacking any sustained effort to change minds. He returned to several of his favorite tropes: Vast federal conspiracies, unproven cover-ups, the unfairly long arm of the IRS and the government disinterest’s in the fading lot of the Rust Belt working man.

Full story

By David Hawkings Posted at 2:27 p.m.

June 10, 2014

Stunner: Cantor Upset Changes Everything

Cantor appeared at a leadership press conference Tuesday, hours before losing his primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cantor appeared at a leadership press conference Tuesday, hours before losing his primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated in a Republican primary Tuesday, conceding his Virginia seat to a local activist after a stunning loss with possibly dramatic consequences for leadership, the chances of any immigration overhaul passing Congress and the future of his party.

He is the first majority leader ever to fall in primary defeat — the position was created in 1899.

Cantor, toppled by college economics professor Dave Brat, 56 percent to 44 percent, conceded just after The Associated Press declared the race over.

Democratic and Republican leadership aides expressed total disbelief and dumbfoundedness Tuesday night. Political operatives in the Old Dominion and organizers in Washington quickly studied election law to see if he could run as a write-in.

With his wife, Diana Fine Cantor, at his side, Cantor choked back emotion and did not sound like a man aiming to stage a comeback.

Full story

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