Rep. Trey Radel Taking Leave of Absence, Hopes to Return as Role Model

At a late night press conference, the congressman who pleaded guilty Wednesday to cocaine possession said he will be taking a leave of absence from Congress.

Rep. Trey Radel is interviewed in his Washington D.C. office in June. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Nov. 20, 2013, 5:41 p.m.

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 Cin­cin­ 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.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4586) }}

What We're Following See More »
Warren Goes After Trump Yet Again
3 hours ago

When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage. 

Congress Passes Chemical Regulations Overhaul
5 hours ago

The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."

GOP Could Double Number of Early Primaries
6 hours ago

"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."

Kasich Tells His Delegates to Remain Pledged to Him
8 hours ago

Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."

House GOP Changes Rules for Spending Measures
8 hours ago

"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.