Trey Radel to resign from Congress
January 27th, 2014
09:24 AM ET
10 months ago

Trey Radel to resign from Congress

Updated 10:58 a.m. ET, 1/27/2014

Washington (CNN) - U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, the Florida Republican who pleaded guilty to cocaine possession last November, will resign from Congress on Monday, he wrote in a resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner.

Radel was caught buying cocaine from an undercover federal agent in Washington and spent nearly a month in a substance abuse program in Florida.

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

His resignation is effective as of 6:30 p.m. ET, Monday.

Upon returning to Capitol Hill this month, Radel apologized for his actions and insisted he was not yet thinking about re-election to another term.

"I cannot express how sorry I am. I ask for your forgiveness. I've let down our entire country. I have let down my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I've let down my family," an emotional Radel said in a brief session with reporters in his office on Capitol Hill, his voice often halting.

Radel, who was known for his casual demeanor and his accessibility to reporters, appeared stoic and stuck with a serious message that he wanted to earn back his reputation, which was crushed by his bust in the undercover sting last fall.

The former television anchor avoided cameras and national media and made a brief statement inside his office, with his aides insisting his comments be off-camera.

"In front of a U.S. representative's name, they often put the word 'honorable,' and I will work hard every day to restore that honor - rebuilding trust and making amends, with our country, my constituents, my colleagues, my wife and my 2-year-old."

Although he declined to detail his treatment plans, Radel made several references suggesting he was participating in an Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program. Although he was arrested for drug possession last fall, he said afterward that his bigger struggle was with alcohol abuse.

"I have an incredible network both at home and right here in Washington, and this is something I will continue to work on for the rest of my life. I will take it one day at a time, and in doing so, I hope to rebuild and regain trust one day at a time," he said.

Radel represents Florida's 19th Congressional District, a solidly Republican district that stretches along the Gulf Coast from Fort Myers south to Naples and Marco Island. He was already facing a primary challenge from a former state lawmaker in August's GOP primary, and other Republicans were expressing interest in the seat.

It's up to the state's GOP governor, Rick Scott, to decide when a special election will be held.

CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Chris Frates contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2014 • Florida
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. john

    GOP congressman resigns in disgrace. Obama brags about being a pot smoking, cocaine snorting, drughead, and the idiots on the left elect him president. Go figure. Shows where the ethics lie.

    January 27, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  2. VJ

    First Republican member of congress stepping down.. tinly little good sign for GOP

    January 27, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Must have been that darn mainstream media that led to his drugs and alcoholism.

    January 27, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    Get yourself well, sir. You have an obligation to your family that outweighs being in the public eye. Take care of yourself so you can take care of them.

    January 27, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  5. tom l

    So I recall all of the hardcore liberals on here up in arms that since he was a repub he obviously wouldn't have anything happen to him and would skate by and that the dems were the best in the world and if he were a dem he would resign and blah blah blah blah. You guys feel silly now based on your previous rants?

    January 27, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  6. sammy750

    It is funny Republicans are urging him to resign when FL Gov. R. Scott, took the fifth 77 times, when he went to trial for stealing millions from Medicare. He moved from TX to FL and got elected Govn the same year. Then the Republicans elected an Idaho state senator to office that was charged with rape twice. He moved from FL to Idaho and got elected. These guys just run from their crimes to get elected in another Republican state. So why should Radel resign just for taking drugs? What are Republicans trying to prove?

    January 27, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  7. Wake up People!

    My goodness. Drug addicts, pedophiles, and these are men from the Party of family values??? Yet they call us dopers, for supporting pot?

    As usual, nothing but a bunch of lying hypocrites. And yes, he's sorry. Sorry that he got caught in an undercover sting buying Coke with the money that taxpayers pay him.

    January 27, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  8. BrickellPrincess

    Nothing good ever comes from Florida. Even the Florida oranges are bitter.

    January 27, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  9. Donnie the Lion

    "I've let down our entire country." Not really....most of us had nothing invested in him to begin with.

    January 27, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. The Sheriff

    String him up

    January 27, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  11. ChrisM

    And another one bites the dust !!

    January 27, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  12. Malory Archer

    I know someone who was told by a police officer after her third DUI, "surrender you driver license now or go to prison for life under Florida's "three strikes" law.

    I wonder if there was another incident with mr. blow and someone advised him to "resign now so we've cover our backsides before this leaks to the press!" Stay tuned.....

    January 27, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Republicans covered up his arrest until after the election. They wanted to make sure that they held on to the seat.

    January 27, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  14. Willllburrrr

    john:
    "GOP congressman resigns in disgrace. Obama brags about being a pot smoking, cocaine snorting, drughead, and the idiots on the left elect him president. Go figure. Shows where the ethics lie."

    How long have you led the life of a double-standard ignorant person? What Obama did as a teen has nothing to do with what this congressman did WHILE IN OFFICE!.

    January 27, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  15. Malory Archer

    john

    GOP congressman resigns in disgrace. Obama brags about being a pot smoking, cocaine snorting, drughead, and the idiots on the left elect him president. Go figure. Shows where the ethics lie.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except President Obama did those things when he was a college student – just like a great many other college students – AND he never got busted. mr. blow, OTOH was a sitting congressman when he was busted – and it took weeks for it to come to light. Can you say "false equivalence"?

    January 27, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. angelo

    He resigns, no prison time, in a substance abuse program payed by taxpayers. Anyone else would probably spend time in a prison cell, lose his job and benefits. This guy resigns with probably a benefit package. Double standards in placed again for politicans and taxpayers. This guy should be in jail like everyone else caught with drugs.

    January 27, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. veep

    uh, this feller done let his "Tea" ferment a lil too long and it done go'ed to 'is head....

    defend him at your own peril.

    January 27, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  18. Steve

    Good beat it.

    January 27, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. TracyIndependent

    He got caught and is resigning...... shouldn't our focus be on the members that aren't resigning after being caught in lies and scandals?

    "You can keep your doctors, period!" = LIE
    "No new taxes on the middle class" = LIE

    Both sides do it and we just drink the kool-aid and reelect them. Noone to blame but the uneducated US voters..... (not school education but education on the candidates, who they are, who they associate with, does their actions line up with their talking points, etc.)

    January 27, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  20. Independent

    I'm sure he gets to keep all his Gov't sponsored benefits.

    January 27, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  21. Don

    GET HIM OUT! Focus on getting better.....no offense but we don't need liars, cheats and manipulators in DC. One down, hundreds to go (including the president because I couldn't keep my plan or my doctor! – Just lied to get through the election... All ACA was delayed until after election which is all politics)

    January 27, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  22. rs

    Aside from the gross difference in treatment by the justice system (would he be on the street or back at work had he been a poor Black man?), the ravages of cocaine addiction/abuse are not the behaviors one gives up on a two-week therapy vacation. Probably this is the right move for Mr. Radel if he is serious about altering his life's trajectory. I hope he realizes the chance he has been giiven here and he takes advantage of it. Not everyone gets such a chance.

    January 27, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  23. rs

    sammy750

    It is funny Republicans are urging him to resign when FL Gov. R. Scott, took the fifth 77 times, when he went to trial for stealing millions from Medicare. He moved from TX to FL and got elected Govn the same year. Then the Republicans elected an Idaho state senator to office that was charged with rape twice. He moved from FL to Idaho and got elected. These guys just run from their crimes to get elected in another Republican state. So why should Radel resign just for taking drugs? What are Republicans trying to prove?
    _____________________
    They are demonstrating what they got from siding with the Catholic Church on some social issues- just keep those troubled priests movin'. Naturally they missed the bigger messages from the Gospels.

    January 27, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  24. Dead Bear

    First, good luck to the man on his recovery. I know all too well the struggles of alcoholism and addiction. Getting sober is hard, but staying sober is easy. Just don't pick up the first drink... Second, he can't help anyone else if he can't help himself first. Glad to see he is resigning so he can focus on his recovery... Finally, do what others in your party seem to be incapable of and show some compassion for others who are struggling. Stop waiting until you can walk in someone else's shoes before you become sympathetic to their plight.

    January 27, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. The right wing have lost their damned minds

    Good riddance to bad rubbish..

    January 27, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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