Rep. Trey Radel to return to Congress after cocaine arrest

3:42 PM, Jan 6, 2014   |    comments
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(CBS NEWS) - Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., who was arrested for purchasing cocaine in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 29, will officially mark his return to Capitol Hill when the new session begins next week, his spokesman told Reuters Friday.

Radel has been absent from Congress for almost six weeks since his arrest, appearing before a D.C. Superior Court judge on Nov. 20 and completing a 28-day treatment program at a clinic in Naples, Fla.

The 37-year old congressman, who is serving his first term in the House after being elected as a tea party conservative in 2012, purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine in the presence of an undercover police officer in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood. He was arrested shortly thereafter.

In a statement, Radel welcomed the opportunity to return to his job. "I look forward to getting back to work next week, representing my neighbors in Southwest Florida as they face the burdens of Obamacare, a jobless recovery, and a federal government that continues to spend more than it takes in," he said.

The House Committee on Ethics said in December that it would investigate whether Radel ran afoul of any congressional rules or laws related to his status as a member of Congress.

In an interview on Friday with Gannett News Service, Radel said he recognized the need to "restore a lot of trust and make amends.

"Only then can I return to what I love doing and what I was elected to do," he said. "I do look forward to getting back to work with a much clearer head and positive thoughts moving forward."

He described his treatment in Naples as "life-changing," and, according to Gannett, he is enrolled in an outpatient program in D.C. to monitor his sobriety.

Amid calls for his resignation from Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and the Florida Republican Party and despite a growing list of primary contenders making noises about taking on the embattled freshman, Radel has resisted calls to step down immediately, and he has not yet said whether he will seek re-election.

Former Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., who held Radel's seat before he retired at the end of the last Congress, has also signaled interest in reclaiming his old seat, and he could be a real threat to Radel if he decides to jump in.

Still, Radel told Gannett that his political future is "absolutely not even a thought in my mind at all, period.

"Right now, the most important things for me are God and family, and with that I'm excited to get back to work to rebuild trust and continue doing the work for the people," he said.

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