Ed O'Neill Helps to Raise Funds For Documentary on Controversial Congressman

Pam WrightLife

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Ed O'Neill is helping to raise funds for a documentary about a colorful U.S. congressman from his native northeast Ohio.

The Modern Family star is aiding filmmaker Eric Murphy in a crowdfunding campaign to raise $17,500 to finish production and add a different ending to Traficant: Congressman of Crimetown.

The 90-minute documentary was finished and ready to be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival when Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., 73, died in September following a tractor accident on his family's farm in Greenford, Ohio.

Murphy decided he needed to change the ending to the documentary to reflect the demise of the former congressman.

"We humbly ask for support from documentary fans, political junkies and everyone in between," said Murphy. "Traficant was larger than life — with equal parts congressional jester and working-class hero. Now, with his passing, the debate is re-ignited: Was he the number one target of a vengeful government or a mobbed-up pariah who violated his people's trust?"

O'Neill was interviewed for the documentary and added a narrative voice. Backers who pledge at least $2,500 get lunch with O'Neill, and according to The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, they also will get co-producer credit.

Known for his colorful presence on the House floor, Traficant often used the phrase "Beam me up!" during his speeches. He was also famous for his interesting collection of outrageous toupees.

Not immune to corruption, Traficant was sent packing from Congress after he was convicted on federal corruption charges. The former sheriff served 17 years in Congress and became only the second congressman expelled from Congress since the Civil War.

He served seven years in prison before he was released in 2009.

Pam Wright