Representative Trey Radel, a freshman congressman who voted to shut down the government in September, was charged with cocaine possession Tuesday after being arrested several weeks earlier, according to court documents. The charge is misdemeanor possession, which carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. Radel, a first-term Republican from Florida, said in a statement that his alcoholism led to “an extremely irresponsible choice,” and apologized to his family. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Washington D.C., where he was originally arrested, on Wednesday.
“I’m profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida," Radel 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 elected last year to Florida’s 19th congressional district, and is generally a garden-variety House conservative. He voted to shut down the government in September and predicted after the shutdown that President Obama would eventually give in to the GOP’s demands, and complained shortly after his election that House Republicans hadn’t yet gotten a chance to cast a symbolic vote against Obamacare.
However, Radel's drug charge isn't entirely inconsistent with his political philosophy. He's cosponsored legislation to end mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders, is generally opposed the war on drugs, and has spoken out against the "dope on the table" strategy of focusing on drug seizures at the expense of deeper institutional problems.
Saying that he’s “ready to face the consequences” of his actions, Radel claimed that the possession charge will offer him “an opportunity to seek treatment and counseling.”
“I know I have a problem and will do whatever is necessary to overcome it, hopefully setting an example for others struggling with this disease,” Radel said.
In a somewhat odd interview last May, Radel talked extensively about his love for hip-hop and electronic music, and boasted that he would “kill it” in an old-school rap battle with Senator Marco Rubio.