Southwest Florida Republican Trey Radel completed his rehab program at a Naples facility Thursday, and called a news conference to say he is not stepping down from the office he won in 2012.
Radel was arrested after buying cocaine from a federal agent during an undercover operation in Washington in October. In November, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession and was sentenced to a year probation and fined $250.
Since then, calls for his resignation have come from the Republican Party of Florida, echoed by Gov. Rick Scott, and the Republican executive committees of Lee and Collier counties.
At the news conference, Radel stressed his problem with alcohol, according to Politico, which first broke the story of his conviction.
“Alcohol does not work for me,” Radel said. “It was selfishly fun, but it became a problem when it led to poor choices and more than that missed opportunities. It never interfered with my congressional obligations, but it led me down a path that slowly but surely chipped away at my relationship with my wife, my child and God. And it led to really bad decisions which put me here today.”
According to a CNN report, Radel did not give a definite answer when asked whether he planned to seek re-election.
“Politics and re-election are the absolute last thing on my mind right now,” he said.
Radel’s 19th District seat is considered safely Republican, so Radel’s main challenge to keeping the seat is likely to come from a primary battle where he will have virtually no support in the party.
Names that have been mentioned as possible GOP challengers are state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, the Senate minority leader, and Chauncey Goss, who lost to Radel in the 2012 primary.
Back in Washington, Radel faces an investigation by the House Ethics Committee into his arrest.
The 10-member ethics committee, chaired by Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., can recommend punishments for Radel including a reprimand, formal censure or expulsion.
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