Congressman Trey Radel, a tea party freshman lawmaker from Fort Myers, was arrested on Oct. 29 for cocaine possession in Washington, D.C, Politico reported.
Radel, who faces a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, was charged Tuesday in the District of Columbia Superior Court with misdemeanor cocaine possession and is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.
“I’m profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida,” the 37-year-old Republican, whose legal name is Henry Jude Radel III, said in a statement. “I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them.”
Radel was arrested in a Drug Enforcement Agency bust when his alleged dealer, arrested in a separate case, led authorities to the congressman, officials said.
Radel then allegedly bought cocaine from an undercover agent in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. Afterward, authorities visited the congressman’s apartment and informed him he would be charged with misdemeanor cocaine possession.
If Radel had been arrested in his home state for cocaine possession, he would have faced far more serious consequences than in Washington. The crime is a felony in Florida, where Radel would have lost his voting and other civil rights had he been convicted in state court.
Another contrast between D.C. and Florida: If the congressman had been a state worker, he would face termination under Gov. Rick Scott, who wants to drug test state employees.
Radel’s arrest comes amid international attention over the use of cocaine by Toronto’s mayor, conservative Rob Ford, who recently admitted to smoking crack. As did Radel, he blamed his crack use on alcohol. Unlike Radel, Ford has been defiant and has denied at times having a drug problem.