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. Matt

    "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."

    Ummm.....smoking pot 30 years ago in college is not quite the same as snorting cocaine while an elected member of Congress. Do you understand the distinction?

    January 27, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Moderate Sean

    "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 | "

    ****************************************************************************************************************

    One – the article above is highlighting a "current issue" impacting a specific Congressman, not the President!! Did this same Congressman admit to his challenges before getting arrest in a undercover sting....? I think we all know that answer....

    Two – the President never bragged about being a "drughead", he wrote in his first book, "Dreams from My Father" that as a kid he used pot and a "little blow" (a reference to cocaine). Please provide your evidence of bragging. One of the quotes from his book illistrates his true meaning, "It was reflective of the struggles and confusion of a teenage boy," he said. "Teenage boys are frequently confused."

    Third – Barak Obama at the time of this use was not in poltics, nor did he hold any official polititcal office. This is not the case for Congressman Radel.

    I cannot speak for all Americans, but from the many instances of the past where celebrities and politicians have admitted beforehand to mistakes or experiementing with drugs, most Americans seem pretty forgiving when one admits to those mistakes in their live, especially when it was done at a younger age. Get over your hatred of this President and speak to the issue at hand! Your argument is one that a child would use to get out of being in trouble, 'but he did it first!'

    January 27, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. Stuffitu

    Democrat liberal "progressives" don't resign. They play the race card and blame Fox when their dirty deeds are brought to light like their corrupt president.

    January 27, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. rs

    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.)
    ______________________________
    Lies are lies, but getting arrested for buying and purchasing Cocaine is a felony. Are you unable to tell the difference, or still struggling with why Mr. Radel isn't in jail?

    January 27, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Malory Archer

    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.)

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

    Yeah, excep those so-called "lies" you mentioned aren't criminal offenses. Ho Hum, new week same false equivalencies.

    January 27, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. ExPat

    Some are trying to crusify the Prez for what he did as a teen, while this POS did what he did while in office. Get over it far right.

    January 27, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. Greybeard

    How is this going to be Obama's fault? I know there are some that are putting the blame on our POTUS.

    January 27, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. Keith

    Getting busted for drugs may have saved his life. Sounds like he made a good decision for himself and his family. Coming back from addiction is way tougher than anything else that might be facing him.

    No matter which party he is from I hope he gets well.

    January 27, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  9. Chris

    Republicans usually force their people out when they commit crimes, democrats promote them to leadership positions.

    January 27, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. g

    if he was one of the pheasants ,he,d be doing 20 yrs

    January 27, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    Stuffitu

    Democrat liberal "progressives" don't resign. They play the race card and blame Fox when their dirty deeds are brought to light like their corrupt president.

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

    Yeah, except a five second search of the Googlez proves just how wrong you are.

    January 27, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    I wish him nothing but success.

    January 27, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. Malory Archer

    Chris

    Republicans usually force their people out when they commit crimes, democrats promote them to leadership positions.

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

    Yeah, except a five second search of the Googlez proves just how backwards you've got that.

    January 27, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Resigning because he knows his addiction is serious and rehab hasn't helped, I've seen this too many times from my addicted clients. Hopefully resigning will give him time to address his demons and kick the addiction that he has had for a long time with cocaine not alcohol.

    January 27, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Fair is Fair

    Appropriately so. Hope he straightens out his life.

    January 27, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Gunderson

    Around and around and around we go, where we stop, nobody know. Kinda makes a good case for returning all the big social programs to the states where your local crook can spend your money.

    Good post Chris, in spite of what the liars and movers are saying. Just how do you think we got the 17 Trillion Dollar Federal Debt. From Angels in Congress and President?

    January 27, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. The REAL Truth...

    @Chris – Republicans usually force their people out when they commit crimes, democrats promote them to leadership positions.
    --------------------------------
    The reality is that Dem's usually end up in jail.. the GOP usually move to another state and get re-elected. No jail time.

    January 27, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Larry L

    Amusing how mostly right-wing talking points cause words and phrases to become widely used across the population. The term "false equivalences" is popping up in all of the comment sections of articles. Somebody like Rush Limbaugh must commonly repeat the phrase during his rants. It is frequently misused but the popularity continues...

    January 27, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. O'drama ya Mama

    Keith

    Getting busted for drugs may have saved his life. Sounds like he made a good decision for himself and his family. Coming back from addiction is way tougher than anything else that might be facing him.

    No matter which party he is from I hope he gets well.
    January 27, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    I dont think it was his decision to get caught. He probably thought he never would.

    January 27, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    I wish him nothing but success.
    -------------------------------------------------
    I will definitely co-sign that sentiment my friend.
    Addiction is no joke, no matter what your poison is.
    I wish him strength, stamina, and success.

    January 27, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. Wake up People!

    Oh really Chris? Which Democrats were promoted??? I do seem to remember a certain republican Governor that ran off to another country for some strange from his side piece..... Now what happened to that governor?? He is now a Senator. How about how the GOP hid Arnold's love child for years? What about the dude in possession of kiddie porn that ate his gun the other day? And the dems had Weiner. Weiner did absolutely NOTHING criminal, yet he was beaten down by the MSM and both parties. Is Weiner the mayor of NY?

    January 27, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion???

    "I've let down our entire country."
    -------------------------------------------
    No you haven't! You've done your country a great service. Trey, your next 8 ball is on me bro.

    January 27, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. Not Too Hard To Understand

    So, the GOP will forgive its own for hiring hookers but not doing a little nose candy. OK, we get that...sort of.

    January 27, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Arnold

    He should serve the 5-year mandatory minimum. Why is he getting a special treatment?

    January 27, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama

    Hey, there. I see what you're doing and I appreciate your encouragement. (says the lady who just ... well, you know)

    Could someone ... anyone ... send Minnesota a bit of warmth? Its freezing up here.

    January 27, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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