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Cocaine Congressman Trey Radel Resigns

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Summer Knowles reports for CBS4 News. She joined CBS4 in June 2...
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Politics

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Republican Trey Radel, who achieved infamy after pleading guilty to cocaine-possession charges in Washington, will resign his Congressional seat, CBS News has confirmed.

The 37-year-old freshman had previously vowed to not resign his seat, despite his conviction on cocaine charges.

“Unfortunately, some of my struggles had serious consequences,” Radel wrote in his resignation letter. “While I have dealt with those issues on a personal level, it is my belief that professionally I cannot fully effectively serve as a United States Representative to the place I love and call home, Southwest Florida.”

“I hereby submit this letter of resignation as the Representative of the 19th District of Florida, effective 6:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, January 27, 2014.”

Radel’s office said he’s not expected to hold a press availability on his resignation.

“I spoke to Congressman Radel this morning,” Governor Scott said Monday afternoon. “He called to tell me that he was going to resign. Our elected officials have to be held to the highest standards. He did the right thing for his family; he did the right thing for the state. I’ll be working with the secretary of state’s office to pick a date for the election.”

Things deteriorated for Radel late last year. On Nov. 20, Radel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession and was sentenced to a year of probation. He admitted to purchasing 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover officer in Washington on Oct. 29.

According to court documents, federal agents confronted the congressman about the undercover buy and he invited them to his apartment, where he turned over a vial of the drug.

A DEA official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details of the case in his own name said Radel was identified to authorities as a cocaine buyer by his suspected dealer. Court documents said the lawmaker had purchased the drug on several previous occasions.

For the next three weeks, Radel didn’t skip a beat. He held a re-election fundraiser at a Naples country club, continued to cast votes and bashed “Obamacare” on Twitter. He did not tell House leaders about the bust until Nov. 19, when reporters broke the news about the case.

Radel completed a 28-day substance abuse treatment program mandated as part of his sentence.

Several GOP leaders, including Gov. Rick Scott, had asked him to resign.

Radel had been in office for 10 months when he was charged. His district includes the Gulf Coast cities of Fort Myers and Naples and is solidly Republican.

Ironically, he supported drug testing for food-stamp recipients and championed cuts in sheep-farm subsidies, keeping good on his conservative promise.

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