Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 1, 2014

Radel Exits Rehab, Plans Return to Congress (Updated)

Updated 6:53 p.m. | Rep. Trey Radel has left rehab and is ready to return to Capitol Hill, the Florida Republican announced in a news conference in his district office on Thursday night.

He didn’t, however, divulge whether he was prepared to announce whether he would seek re-election for a second term.

The freshman lawmaker called it “the last thing on my mind right now,” adding, “I don’t have a time frame for when I’ll decide.”

Radel has been in rehab since Nov. 21, and the Thursday briefing with reporters was his first public appearance since right before that date. The leave of absence from Congress came on the heels of revelations in November that Radel was arrested in late October for possession of cocaine.

Since then, his case has become something of a sideshow in Washington, D.C., in his district and around the country. Some top Florida GOP officials have called for his resignation; the House Ethics Committee announced Monday that it would open a formal investigation; and his arrest has been an unwelcome distraction for leadership.

“[Speaker John A.] Boehner suggested I go get the help I need,” Radel said. “I hope to show those who supported me, or may have called for my resignation, that I have been getting through this on a day-by-day basis.”

But on Thursday, Radel emphasized that his issue had never been with cocaine, but with alcohol, and he had only used the drug “a handful of times.”

“I’ve been treated for the disease of alcoholism. Alcohol is my issue,” he said.

“It was selfishly fun but it became a problem when it came to poor choices and … missed opportunities,” Radel said of his drinking problem. While it didn’t interfere with his congressional activities, he said, it “chipped away at my relationship with my wife, my child and God.”

Radel has a 2-year-old son.

As for why he waited so long between the time of his arrest and public revelations about the incident, Radel suggested he was listening to the advice of his attorneys.

“I knew this day was gonna come,” he said.

The rehab center at which he sought treatment, he said, has provided him with “a step-by-step program and a rediscovery of faith, family and God that I have lost over the years, to focus on what’s important.”

At one point, he compared his wake-up call was like “God was kicking me in the shins.”

Radel appeared before the cameras on Thursday in a suit and tie. He stood beside his wife, Amy, who said her husband was “awesome” and spoke passionately about his commitment to making a full recovery — but wouldn’t say when or how she learned about his addiction issues or his use of cocaine.

He said he prided himself as one of the most accessible lawmakers in Washington and, to that end, he would answer as many questions as journalists had to ask.

During those exchanges with reporters, which didn’t last particularly long, the lawmaker would not identify who was with him at the time of his arrest but emphasized it was a “private person,” not a public official, lobbyist or congressional staffer.

He said he was never drunk or high while voting on the House floor, and he promised to cooperate fully with the Ethics Committee.

And regarding his much-publicized vote to drug-test food stamp recipients, Radel downplayed accusations of hypocrisy: “I think members of Congress can and should be drug tested as well,” he said.

 

  • Leslie Piper

    What’s to say? He found out about coke, and first it was amazing fun and then when he had it he couldn’t ‘keep it around’, and found he thought a lot about it when he didn’t have it…and what else is there to say? Oh yeah: he’s been a serious fool, not an ideal representative, but likely a true representative of America than most of us want to admit.
    So do we allow the fool to stay in a position of very great power ? Given his talking record of anti-working poor and the terribly cruel people he hangs out with, recidivism is only a short time away.
    He’s just another disgraced GOTP simpleton, probably ought to clear him away for a newer, shinier stupid face…farce, I meant.

  • migtex1234

    Total disgrace, he shoud fade away

  • George Allegro

    There is no moral reason why those who have joined forces are entitled to expand the footprint of their own power in the name of democracy.

  • dectra

    Wow….did he spend a whole 3 weeks in rehab? It’s a miracle….’he’s cured’…….

    If the man had ANY self respect he’d resign and truly work on repentance and an hones attempt to rehabilitate himself.

  • Andre Leonard

    Cocaine is one of the most highly addictive drugs known to man.

    It’s doubtful a 30 day rehab stint has any effect on Radel.

    Radel needs to man-up and resign..

  • Richard Tebaldi

    This article says it all about what runs our Country, doesn’t it?

  • Pro_bono_publico

    This is idiot will not survive the September 2014 Republican primary. He’s toast!

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