It’s 10:30 p.m. Do you know where your congressman is?
If you live in Florida’s 19th District, you did Wednesday night. That’s because Rep. Trey Radel was apologizing right about that time after reporters uncovered his arrest for buying cocaine in the District.
“I will be taking a leave of absence,” Radel (R) told reporters. “During that time I’m going to donate my salary to a charity. I believe in faith, I believe in forgiveness and redemption.”
Radel’s announcement that he will go to rehab came on the same day he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug-possession charge in D.C. Superior Court.
But Radel was actually arrested several weeks ago after paying an undercover police officer $250 for 3.5 grams of cocaine. In his apology — to America, the citizens of southwestern Florida, his wife (he repeatedly referred to her as his “rock,” although she did not attend the news conference) and his 2-year-old son — Radel failed to mention why it took him so long to, ahem, come clean.
Like so many embattled politicians before him, Radel is clearly hoping that a trip to rehab will heal him mentally, physically and, yes, politically. He made no mention of resigning — and the local press corps, inexplicably, didn’t ask. So far, House Republican leaders haven’t said much other than to wish him well in his recovery.
But it’s hard to imagine that Radel is out of the woods. His local paper, the Fort Myers News-Press, called on him to step aside: “He embarrassed the voters who put their faith and trust in him,” the editorial board wrote. One of Radel’s 2012 Republican opponents called the congressman a “scuzzbag.”
Trey Radel, for saying you’re sorry three weeks after getting caught, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.