Monday, January 27, 2014

GOP Florida Congressman Trey Radel to leave Congress after drug arrest

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Trey Radel, the first Congressman ever arrested for possessing cocaine while in office, is resigning from Southwest Florida congressional seat today.

I can confirm he is resigning today," Greg Dolan, Radel's spokesman, said in an email to the Naples Daily News on Monday morning.

The 37-year-old freshman Republican was busted in November from buying cocaine in from an undercover federal agent in Washington D.C. and spent nearly a month in a rehabilitation facility.

Although there were a number of Republicans in Florida who called on him to resign immediately, the former radio and television personality publicly refused to consider doing so, until today. That may because the House Ethics Committee has just launched its promised investigation of the Congressman.

Radel avoided jail time for his arrest by working a plea deal with federal prosecutors. He could have received a maximum sentence of 180 days imprisonment or a $1,000 fine, or both. Instead, he was placed on one year probation, and if it is "successfully completed," his guilty plea will be cleared from his record.

At the time of his arrest, Radel had said, "I’m struggling with this disease, but I know that I can overcome it."

Some critics noted some hypocrisy in the air, alluding to the fact that Radel had supported a voice-vote approval for an amendment that allows states to require drug-testing of food stamp recipients, prompting Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) to ask, “Why don’t we drug test all the members of Congress here. Force everybody to go urinate in a cup or see whether or not anybody is on drugs?"

There will now be a special congressional in Florida's 19th District later this year. That date will be announced by Governor Rick Scott. The seat is safely a Republican one, meaning the Democrats will not be able to exploit the situation. Former state Representative Paige Kreegal had already announced his intention to run for the seat. Rumors are percolating that state Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, former Naples City Councilman Chauncey Goss (the son of former Congressman CIA chief Porter Goss) and former Congressman Connie Mack may also consider entering the contest.

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