CAPE CORAL, Fla. (AP) — Congressman Trey Radel (R- FL) will take a leave of absence as he seeks intensive inpatient treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse following his conviction on a misdemeanor drug possession charge in Washington, D.C.
Radel, who represents a heavily Republican district in Southwest Florida, was sentenced to one year of supervised release at a court hearing Wednesday.
At a press conference later that evening, he apologized to his family, friends and voters.
“I’m sorry. I have no excuse for what I’ve done,” Rep. Radel said in a room packed with reporters and photojournalists. “I let down our country. I’ve let down our constituents. I’ve let down my family, including my wife and even though he doesn’t know it, I’ve let down my 2-year-old son.”
Radel took a handful of questions from the assembled media, a group he was once a part of.
The freshman Congressman was previously a reporter and anchor for a Southwest Florida news station and a conservative radio talk show host.
“I have been getting the help that I need,” Radel said. “I want to be a better man.”
When CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana asked him how long he’d been battling alcoholism and drug abuse, Radel would only say “several years.”
He explained his mother dealt with similar issues and asked the community to pray for him and his family.
“I believe in faith, forgiveness and redemption,” the Congressman said.
Radel was elected in 2012.
He campaigned as a political outsider, but quickly became a Tea Party favorite.
While he plans to stay in office, he did not mention whether he would run again.
According to court documents, Radel purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine for $260 during a sting operation.
Investigators said he has bought cocaine on several occasions and has shared it with friends.
“This is my wake-up call,” Radel said.
His wife, Amy, was not at the press conference or at his court appearance.
Radel said his wife is caring for their son, but that she has been his “rock” throughout this experience.
He said he is working on regaining her trust and the trust of his constituents.
He promised his staff would still be available to serve the community while he seeks treatment.
During his leave of absence, Radel said he will donate his salary to charity.