Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) charged with cocaine possession

November 19, 2013

Freshman Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) has been charged with possession of a controlled substance.

According to court charging documents, on Oct. 29, Radel "unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally possessed" a quantity of cocaine. The charges are as a result of a D.C. Superior Court Grand Jury indictment.

Radel was charged Tuesday and will be arraigned Wednesday. He faces a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

In a statement, he said problems with alcohol led to an "extremely irresponsible choice" and said he will seek treatment.

"I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida," Radel said. "I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them."

Radel continued: "... This unfortunate event does have a positive side. It offers me an opportunity to seek treatment and counseling. I know I have a problem and will do whatever is necessary to overcome it, hopefully setting an example for others struggling with this disease."

Radel's charge was first reported by Politico.

Radel, 37, was elected to his first term in November 2012, taking 63 percent of the vote and succeeding Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.). He represents Florida’s 19th Congressional District which includes Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs and Marco Island.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the matter will be dealt with outside the halls of Congress.

"Members of Congress should be held to the highest standards, and the alleged crime will be handled by the courts," the spokesman, Michael Steel, said. "Beyond that, this is between Rep. Radel, his family and his constituents."

Radel did not vote Monday evening when the House reconvened, but has been casting votes in recent weeks, including on the day of and the day after his arrest.

During votes last Friday, Radel told a Washington Post reporter that the last few weeks of intense debate regarding the partisan government shutdown and new health-care law had been "stressful" on his young family. Radel’s wife, Amy, and their young child have been splitting their time between Washington and their Florida home so that the young family can be together more often.

On Friday, Radel recounted how at the height of the 16-day shutdown, he had to drive his wife and child home to Florida because of an ear infection. He did not specify when the trip occurred.

The freshman lawmaker is a former television news anchor and producer who held jobs in Texas and Illinois before moving to Florida. The young congressman has since drawn attention among some for his love of hip-hop music and the fact that he mixes his own beats.

He is fluent in Spanish that he learned while backpacking across Mexico, Central America and South America, and House Republicans have relied on him to appear frequently on Spanish-language television and radio news programs to discuss immigration reform, the budget debate and concerns with health-care reform.

Radel has also been known for his irreverent, rapid-fire tweets on pop culture and — in particular — the SkyMall catalog. During flights, Radel had frequently posted Twitter "reviews" of the SkyMall catalog, under the hashtag #treyonplane. On Oct. 24 alone, he posted 13 photos of items advertised in the catalog, everything from a garden gnome to a wine holder in the shape of a high-heel shoe to a slingshot designed to sling users across their backyard (“Yo. U see newest craze? Catapult ur self to certain death,” Radel wrote).

On Oct. 29, the day that the alleged offense occurred, Radel referenced this lighter side of his persona in a tweet. “Had some fun last few wks. Check out #treydome for look at tour of our Capitol. And for fun- #treyonplane Reviewed hilarious SkyMall mag!”

Radel recently co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to reform the nation's mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenses.

His arrest has come to light following Toronto Rob Mayor's admission that he used crack cocaine in recent years. Ford also blamed alcohol — a "drunken stupor," as he put it — for his decision to use drugs.

RELATED: Scandal-tainted members of Congress

David A. Fahrenthold contributed to this report. Updated at 9:11 p.m.

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