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
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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.

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