November 21, 2013
Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday morning, admitting he had purchased the drug from an undercover officer in Dupont Circle last month.
Radel, a former TV broadcaster just 10 months into his first term in Congress, was sentenced by Judge Robert S. Tignor to one year of probation on the misdemeanor charge. Radel will undergo treatment in Florida, and he said he is also seeking counseling in the District.
Radel apologized in court, saying, “I hit a bottom, and I realize I need help.” If Radel completes probation, he won’t have a conviction on his record, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
So far, Radel has given no indication that he will resign his office. The House’s GOP leadership has made only terse statements on the case, saying the matter should be left to the courts, Radel and his family.
Radel, 37, has stood out in Congress for his hyper, gregarious manner and his willingness to challenge veteran legislators in efforts to cut spending. This past summer, he won a small but surprising victory on the House floor, rallying members to cut the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, a seemingly immortal spending program.
But, authorities said, during Radel’s short time in Washington, he had also made a connection to the city’s drug trade. Charging documents say he purchased cocaine in the nation’s capital on several occasions.
It was a remarkable double life, built in record time. Radel was on the radar of both the Capitol press corps and the Drug Enforcement Administration before Congress took its Thanksgiving break.