Fort Myers-area GOP Congressman Trey Radel's arrest on cocaine charges in Washington D.C. is prompting newshounds to check out the freshman Representative's previous comments regarding drugs.
The 37-year-old lawmaker is serving in his first year in the nation's capital after succeeding Connie Mack in the Southwest area congressional seat in 2012. Politico reports that he was charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday, after being arrested on October 29.
The former journalist, TV anchor and radio talk show host has co-sponsored H.R. 3382, the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bill that attempts to reform mandatory minimum sentences issued out for drug offenses.
The News-Press of Fort Myers quoted Radel as saying earlier this year that “The war on guns is as naive as the war on drugs," adding that "nothing will disappear." He made those comments while speaking out about proposed gun laws that were being publicly discussed in the wake of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that ultimately never made it to the House of Representatives.
But Radel showed no mercy toward those qualifying for food stamps who might have an issue with drugs. He voted in September with the majority of his GOP colleagues that would allow states to drug test recipients of SNAP — the supplemental nutrition assistance program.
In a statement issued after his arrest was made public:
I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida. 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.
In facing this charge, I realize the disappointment my family, friends and constituents must feel. Believe me, I am disappointed in myself, and I stand ready to face the consequences of my actions.
However, this unfortunate event does have a positive side. It offers me 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.
Please keep my family in your prayers.
Better for Radel that he was popped in D.C. and not back in Fort Myers. Florida law states that if one is convicted of coke possession, it's a felony, meaning he could have lost his voting and other civil rights. In D.C. that is not the case, though he faces a maximum of 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine if found guilty.
ABC News reports that in an interview earlier this year, "Radel identified his favorite vacation spot outside of his home state as Cartegena, Colombia, an expensive coastal city in a country notorious for cocaine trafficking."