Rep. Trey Radel says he'll stay in office after rehab

7:59 PM, Dec 19, 2013   |    comments
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Rep. Trey Radel (R-Florida) (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)



(USA TODAY) Rep. Trey Radel said he plans to stay in office, following 28 days in a treatment program required by his guilty plea last month to misdemeanor cocaine possession.

"I'm going to return to what sent me to do," he said in a news conference in Cape Coral Thursday evening.

RELATED: Taxpayers like you to pay Radel's rehab tab

The Florida Republican's announcement comes three days after the House Ethics Committee announced it would investigate Radel to determine whether he violated rules of conduct as a result of the cocaine case.

Radel, 37, pleaded guilty Nov. 20 in District of Columbia Superior Court and was sentenced to supervised probation for one year, ordered to undergo substance abuse treatment and fined $250.

"I've hit a bottom where I realize I need help," Radel said when he appeared in court and admitted purchasing 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover officer.

SEE ALSO: Radel speaks after busted for buying cocaine

The freshman congressman from Fort Myers is the first sitting House member to be arrested on cocaine charges, experts say. At the time of his sentencing, Radel indicated he intended to return to Capitol Hill in January to resume his legislative duties.

Top GOP officials in Florida, including Gov. Rick Scott, have called on the tea party-backed freshman to step down.

MORE: Rep. Radel: "I feel great, except for people harassing me"

A number of potential Republican candidates already are eying the seat, including state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto and Chauncey Goss, who was the runner-up in last year's primary.

Former Rep. Connie Mack IV, who preceded Radel in Congress, is considering a run for the seat as well but only if Radel does not seek re-election.

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