At a late night press conference, Rep. Trey Radel, who pleaded guilty Wednesday to cocaine possession, said that he will be taking a leave of absence from Congress to seek support for his substance abuse. “I have found treatment, and I am working on treatment,” the congressman said. “I have no excuse for what I’ve done,” said an obviously emotional Radel. “I’ve let down our country, I’ve let down our constituents, I’ve let down our family.”
The congressman says he will donate his congressional salary to charity during his absence. Calling the arrest his “wake-up call,” he said that he will begin with “intensive,” in-patient treatment. “I have been getting the help that I need, and I will continue to get the help that I need. And the support system that I need for years to come.” It’s not clear how long Randel will be gone from Congress, but it doesn’t currently look like he has any plans to resign.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Florida Republican was sentenced to a year’s probation and a $260 fine after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for possessing cocaine. According to court documents in the case, Radel had purchased and used cocaine on “several occasions.” The congressman was arrested on October 29 after buying 3.5 grams of cocaine off of an undercover police officer at Circa, a Dupont restaurant.
In an interview with Cincinnati.com on Wednesday, Rep. Radel’s father spoke about the phone conversation he had with his son last week about his arrest, telling him “I’m behind you 100 percent and I love you.” The interview also disclosed Rep. Radel’s mother’s alcoholism. Radel’s mother died at his 2009 wedding.
On Tuesday night, the congressman issued a statement citing his struggles with alcoholism. “I hope that I can be a role model for millions of others that are struggling with this disease,” the congressman said Wednesday night.