Florida Congressman Trey Radel has turned in his resignation, a spokesman for the Florida congressman’s office said Monday. Radel was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2012 with strong backing from the conservative Tea Party.
Charged in November, Radel returned to Congress in January just a month and a half after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. On his return to congress Radel told his constituents that he was looking forward to returning to work and to representing them as he struggled against a federal government that “…continues to spend more than it takes in.”
Initially, Radel ignored calls for his resignation. The Republican Party of Florida and Florida Governor Rick Scott said they felt it was in the party’s and state’s best interest if Radel and his problems were not a distraction.
On October 29, 2013, Radel was arrested in Washington DC’s trendy Dupont Circle neighborhood. A month later, Radel pled guilty to misdemeanor charges and sentenced to one year supervised probation.
Initially announcing that he would be taking a leave of absence from Congress to pursue addiction treatment, Radel, amid pressure announced his resignation.
Before Radel was caught buying cocaine from an undercover federal officer in Washington, the former congressman has had his challenges.
When the seat for the 19th District opened up in Florida, Radel decided to run. It was not long before controversy started hovering around the former journalist and newspaper owner. His campaign committee, “Friends of Trey Radel, Inc.” had bought his opponents’ domain names almost a year before his announcement to run for office. When Florida media reported it, Radel initially denied knowing anything about it and blamed his staff. Eventually he admitted to purchasing the domain names.
Radel went on to win the congressional seat. After the victory party, The Naples Daily News reported that the financial reports Radel had filed during his campaign were inaccurate. He was forced to amend the reports in which he underreported his net worth and neglected to list his trust funds.
Before getting involved in politics, Radel had been trained as an actor and comedian. A veteran of improvisational work with Second City in Chicago, Radel later began working for CBS affiliates in Chicago before going to Houston.
Relocating to Naples, Florida, Radel bought the Naples Journal, a community newspaper. Reformatting and expanding it, he later sold it to the Naples Daily News for an undisclosed sum. His next foray into the media happened when he founded Trey Communications, LLC., a conservative media relations firm. According to sources, the bulk of Trey Communications’ function was to buy and sell domain names including some that were pornographic.
Radel’s arrest has again thrown the spotlight on the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The legislation, Public Law 111-220, was signed into law by American President Obama in 2010. The law reduced the disparity between the penalties for crack possession and cocaine possession. Previous to the bill’s passage and signing, federal courts had already taken steps to reduce the sentencing difference. There is still a disparity of penalties between jurisdictions.
If the charge had occurred in his home district it would have been a felony according to Terry Miller, Lee County, Florida, Republican Chairman.
Radel’s resignation leaves the 19th District House Seat open. The Florida Republican Party said they will announce in coming weeks their plans to fill the vacancy.
By Jerry Nelson