Trey Radel Officially Resigns from Congress

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: January 27, 2014 10:55 AM
Trey Radel

Trey Radel

U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives Monday morning, leaving a coveted seat in Congress up for grabs.

“Regardless of some personal struggles in 2013, this year has already been tremendously positive as I focus on my health, family and faith,” said Radel in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. “Unfortunately, some of my struggles had serious consequences. While I have dealt with these issues on a personal level, it is my belief professionally I cannot fully and effectively serve as a United States representative to the place I love and call home, Southwest Florida.”

Radel’s resignation will go into effect at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Radel’s troubles surfaced at the end of October when he bought 3.5 grams of cocaine from an acquaintance and an undercover agent in Washington’s Dupont Circle. Court documents said Radel gave the undercover officer $250 for the drug outside of a restaurant, and the two got into the officer's vehicle, where the officer gave Radel the cocaine. Federal agents then approached Radel after he left the vehicle, and he dropped the cocaine to the street, according to court documents.

Radel pleaded guilty to the charge in November and was sentenced to a year of probation.

In December, the House Ethics Committee announced it would be launching a formal investigation into the alleged misconduct by Radel.

Initially, Radel said he would only be taking a leave of absence from the House to attend rehab, saying he needed to focus on combating his alcoholism. But the voices calling for the Fort Myers congressman’s resignation grew louder, and soon after Radel entered rehab, his political allies encouraged him to step down.

“The people of Florida’s 19th Congressional District need a congressman who is 100 percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida," said Republican Party of Florida chair Lenny Curry. "Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family.”

Republicans in Radel’s hometown were not quiet about voicing their disappointment over his actions.

"These actions have violated the trust of those whom he was elected to represent and fall short of the standards for an elected official -- especially a member of the United States Congress," said statements from the Lee and Collier County Republican executive committees.

Radel served Florida’s 19th Congressional District for a year.

Political analysts have long held that Radel was on a dead-end road after his arrest -- and Republicans had already begun to gear up to replace the freshman congressman.

Radel’s district is solidly Republican -- he won the 2012 election against Democrat Jim Roach with 63 percent of the vote.

Connie Mack, Chauncey Goss, Paige Kreegel and Lizbeth Benacquisto’s names have floated around as possible Republican contenders for the seat.

"This announcement ... makes it clear that Southwest Florida families will soon choose a new voice to represent them in Congress," said Benacquisto shortly after Radel's resignation. "I will consider the best way I can be of service to Florida and our region. This includes talking to my neighbors, my friends, and my family to seek their guidance moving forward.” 

A special election will be held to replace Radel in the House, but a date has not yet been set.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.

Comments (18)

11:26AM JAN 29TH 2014
One group talks "forgiveness" and the other talks "celebrating diversity". This man had a drug problem, and felt he couldn't stay in office because of the hostile reaction. Where's the "forgiveness"? Where's the "celebration of diversity"? Y'all don't mean what you say, or say what you mean. You have the government you deserve.
12:37PM JAN 28TH 2014
Radel probably resigned to protect Darrel Issa from being tied into his habit shall we say. Do I have hard information that says this is so? No, but I am channelling my inner Fox and some of the regulars on SSN.
8:11AM JAN 28TH 2014
hope he dont get food stamps you know hes got a drug habit i wonder if he would pass a drug screen he probly half to sell them for his habit he wanted the pepole to take a drug test for food stamps make you wonder about are goverment how many are in the closet with there habits
Jennifer Cohen
1:42PM JAN 27TH 2014
Excellent decision, it is time for a Democrat to sit in this seat. Let's go!! How about a Woman!
2:09PM JAN 27TH 2014
witchdoctor say Lizbeth a great choice and fits your need for a gender based representative.

Bones don't lie.
5:47PM JAN 27TH 2014
Don't mind him, Jennifer . . . he can't help his mouth . . . just like Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Todd Akins, Ken Cuccinnelli and others in the we-just-don't-get-it GOP, whether about women, or in Witchdoctor's case, about either race or women . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
9:28AM JAN 28TH 2014
Witchdoctor confused by Frank the Misogynist Racist's comment. Previous poster requested gender based candidate, and Witchdoctor provide.

Bones Don't Lie.
11:43AM JAN 28TH 2014
You're always confused . . . even about whether speaking in broken English and using a pseudonym of Witchdoctor to mock the first black President is racist . . . . . . . . . . . . . it is/you are . . .

Pathetic . . . .
4:48PM JAN 28TH 2014
Witchdoctor need not mock first black President. His incompetence mocks himself. But Frank the Racist terrified of colored women running for office. Oddly Frank not scared of Orange skinned Charlie Crist running for office, so Witchdoctor conclude Frank secretly pro-life, Reagan Republican.
12:31PM JAN 29TH 2014
Yes, everyone's the racist except the one using Witchdoctor . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
John Pru
1:20PM JAN 27TH 2014
The right decision - I'm surprised it took this long to figure it out! And in the aftermath, any of the individuals named as potential candidates will be a better Congressman. And William - don't be too harsh on Senator Benaquisto, she would do a good job for the district if she decides to become a candidate.
12:22PM JAN 27TH 2014
Who is Lizbeth kidding? She made up her mind weeks ago when she started dumping her state campaign money in her sugar and spice media buy to "introduce herself" to voters. I ask you why you need to introduce yourself to anyone if you are a current State Senator?

We do not need someone who uses loopholes to spend money in bait and switch schemes.
2:10PM JAN 27TH 2014
Witchdoctor say we agree Lizbeth is smart and started lining up her voters early. Sounds like the kind of thinking we could use in DC.
5:49PM JAN 27TH 2014
No one needs your Aryan racism in D.C. . . .

Pathetic . . .
9:27AM JAN 28TH 2014
Witchdoctor notes Frank the Racist's heavy concern about racism. Benaquisto meets Witchdoctors qualifications because she talented Majority leader.

Benaquisto should meet Frank the Racists qualification because she a)woman and b)hispanic surname. That's pathetic for Frank the Misogynist Racist.

Bones Don't Lie.
12:50PM JAN 28TH 2014
No one has to look any further than your pseudonym to understand who the racist is . . . and the fact that SSN allows you to persist in using it . . .

Pathetic . . .
4:51PM JAN 28TH 2014
Witchdoctor say Frank the Racist conclude only one color of skin can be Witchdoctor...who the Racist here, Frank? Are you saying that no one can do work outside of their "proper" color role?

Bones Don't Lie.
But Frank the Racist does.
12:32PM JAN 29TH 2014
I'm not the proven racist, that honor belongs to Witchdoctor . . . and perhaps to SSN for allowing this farce to continue . . . .

Pathetic . . . .

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