Former Ohio Congressman James Traficant, who served time in jail on a corruption conviction, has died at 73 after a tractor accident, according to reports. The vehicle flipped over onto him while he was trying to park it, the AP reports. He spent four days in the hospital and died today, a Democratic official tells the news organization. Traficant, who spent 17 years in Congress, was expelled in 2002 following his conviction; he was just the second lawmaker since the Civil War to be voted out of the body, the AP notes.
The Democrat spent seven years in prison after prosecutors said he took bribes and coerced employees into working on his farm and houseboat. Prior to his time in jail, he made a name for himself as a colorful character in Congress. He "was best known for his improbable hair piece and his outlandish suits" as well as "the broadsides he launched at Republicans, his fellow Democrats, and big government," says a commentator with NPR partner WKSU. Rep. Tim Ryan, who currently holds Traficant's former seat, notes that he was a force: "The only other person I can think of is Bill Clinton. It's that level of electricity." (Read more James Traficant stories.)