Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) announced Wednesday night that he will take a leave of absence from Congress following pleading guilty to cocaine possession. He declined to resign.
"I will be taking a leave of absence," Radel said. "During that time I’m going to donate my salary to a charity. I belive in faith, I believe in forgiveness and redemption. And I hope if there’s anything positive that can come of this … it's that I hope I can be a role model for millions of others that are struggling with this disease."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) office said Radel's leave of absence has been entered into the Congressional Record.
An emotional Radel, 37, got choked up as he talked about dealing with the death of his mother, who died at his 2009 wedding reception. Radel said that his mother struggled with alcoholism -- the disease he said resulted in him making an "extremely" poor decision.
"I hope, like family, Southwest Florida can forgive me for this," he said. "I hope to come out of this a stronger man, a better man, for all of you."
Radel said he has been "dealing with this off and on for years."
Radel said repeatedly that he would work to regain the trust of his family and his constituents. He said his wife has been supportive.
"Sometimes in life you need a wake-up call," he said. "This is my wake-up call."
Radel was arrested Oct. 29 in Washington. He was charged Tuesday with a misdeameanor and was sentenced to one year of probation after his guilty plea Wednesday.
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