‘Hip-hop conservative’ congressman to be arraigned on cocaine charge

Rep. Trey Radel, (R-Fla.) leaving court in Washington after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession.
(Jessica Gresko / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Trey Radel, a first-term Republican from Florida, was charged Tuesday with possession of cocaine, according to court documents.

He is scheduled to be arraigned in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday.

The felony charge stems from an Oct. 29 incident involving an undercover buy, according to a law enforcement source who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to comment publicly. Radel, 37, came to the attention of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration this fall.

Radel, who was not formally arrested, could face a maximum of 180 days imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. But as a first-time offender, the congressman could ask the court to defer sentencing and place him on probation.


In a statement released after the news broke, Radel, a former radio talk show host, said that a struggle with alcoholism “led to an extremely irresponsible choice” and that he would seek counseling. He also said he stood “ready to face the consequences of my actions.”

“I’m profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of southwest Florida,” Radel said. “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.

“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,” he added.

Radel, of Fort Myers, had not served in public office until his election to Congress in 2012, easily defeating his Democratic opponent in a heavily Republican district.

On his Twitter profile, Radel describes himself as a “hip-hop conservative.” He sent Twitter messages several times on the date he is alleged to have bought cocaine, including two on issues involving the Affordable Care Act.

The House was in session that day, and Radel participated in every vote, as well as those the following day. He has not voted this week.


A spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement on the matter that members of Congress “should be held to the highest standards.”

“The alleged crime will be handled by the courts. Beyond that, this is between Rep. Radel, his family and his constituents,” the spokesman said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) noted at an event Tuesday evening that Radel’s drug charge came shortly after the House Republican majority voted to require food stamp recipients to take drug tests.

ly after the House Republican majority voted to require food stamp recipients to take drug tests.