Rep. Trey Radel Will
Resign From Congress Today
Rep. Trey Radel will resign from Congress on Monday, according to multiple sources.
Radel was caught buying cocaine last year from an undercover federal agent in Washington and spent nearly a month in a rehabilitation facility. He returned to Congress after the winter recess.
The first-term Republican plans to send a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Monday, sources said.
It’s up to Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott to schedule a special election for Radel’s seat. His southwest Florida district is solidly Republican — Mitt Romney won the district with 61 percent of the vote.
The race for Radel’s seat had begun even before he decided to resign. Republican Paige Kreegel, a former state representative, has already launched a campaign for the 19th district. Kreegel, who finished third to Radel in a 2012 primary, has drawn the support of a super PAC, which has raised $1 million with the intention of helping him win the seat.
Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Republican leader in the Florida Senate in Tallahassee, is widely expected to run for the seat. Former Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who held the seat before Radel, has also mulled a run.
Before this incident, Radel looked like he had a bright career. He gained prominence by playful banter on Twitter. He called himself the hip hop Congressman.
But in Oct. 2013, Radel was caught buying cocaine at a Dupont Circle restaurant from an undercover federal agent. He didn’t tell his colleagues or House Republican leadership about the incident. But on Nov. 20, it became public when Radel appeared in D.C. court to plead guilty to charges that he possessed cocaine. While Radel was in rehab, his staff — many of them junior aides — kept his office afloat.
Top Florida GOP leaders — including the governor and senior party officials — publicly called on Radel to resign. He ignored the calls, and returned to Washington at the beginning of January. The House Ethics Committee launched its own investigation of Radel — an inquest they’ll now have to give up.