WASHINGTON – Rep. Trey Radel returned to Congress for the first time since pleading guilty to drug possession charges and vowed to focus on the nation’s challenges even as he continues to deal with his own.
“In front of a U.S. representative’s name they often put the word ‘honorable,’” the Florida Republican said during a brief news conference in his office Tuesday evening, before casting his first vote in months. “I will work hard every single day to restore that honor, rebuilding trust and making amends with our country, my constituents, my colleagues, my wife and my 2-year-old.”
Radel has been absent from the Capitol since a November court appearance where he acknowledged attempting to purchase cocaine from an undercover police officer. He was sentenced to one year's probation and announced he was taking a leave of absence to begin undergoing treatment for what he said was a struggle with alcoholism that “led to an extremely irresponsible choice.”
Radel said Tuesday that he would meet with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) this week and was eager to begin working with colleagues from both parties to “do what the people elected me to do.”
“I’ve built a support system for the rest of my life to carry me through this,” he said. “And now I’m hoping to deal with the issues that face the country. And in doing so I will do it one day at a time.”
Prominent Florida Republicans have urged Radel to resign. The first-term lawmaker also faces an investigation by the House Ethics Committee into whether any of his actions violated House rules. But he said his political future was “the absolute last thing on my mind.”
“The most important thing right now is my health, my family and getting back to finding solutions and getting something done,” he said.
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