Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., who pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine Wednesday, told constituents he would take a leave of absence from Congress.
“Sometimes in life you need a wake up call,” Radel said during a press conference Wednesday night. “This is my wake up call.”
The freshman congressman, who held his press conference alone without his wife by his side, faces one year of probation and volunteered to undergo “intensive inpatient treatment” at a clinic in Naples, Fla.
“I have been getting the help that I need, and I will continue to get the help that I need,” Radel said.
During his leave of absence, Radel announced his offices would remain open, and he would donate his salary to charity.
“I believe in faith. I believe in forgiveness and redemption,” Radel said adding that he hoped something “positive” could arise from his situation.
“I hope that I can be a role model for millions of others [who] are struggling with this disease,” he said.
Radel, 37, asked a judge for forgiveness Wednesday during his arraignment. He admitted that he had “hit a bottom,” and realized he needed help. According to CNN, the congressman’s record will be cleared if he successfully completes his end of the plea bargain. In Washington, possessing cocaine could have landed Radel in jail for up to 180 days or stuck him with a $1,000 fine.
Tuesday, when news of the cocaine charge broke, Radel released a statement announcing he had an alcohol addiction, which had led him to make an “irresponsible” decision. Radel had been caught after he purchased 3.5 ounces of cocaine from an undercover cop in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. The cop was part of a wider police sting to bust a local drug ring.
Since arriving on Capitol Hill in January, Radel has been lauded as an approachable member of the Republican caucus. Radel, who honed a reputation as a prolific tweeter, also self-identified as a “hip hop conservative.”
Before being elected to Congress in 2012, Radel had a career as a television news reporter, radio host and newspaper owner.
“I have to rebuild the trust with Southwest Florida,” Radel said. “I have broken a lot of hearts.”