Rep. Trey Radel Resigns Following Cocaine Charge, Rehab

By Erica Jones and Torey Van Oot
|  Monday, Jan 27, 2014  |  Updated 7:49 PM PDT
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Florida Congressman Trey Radel resigned Monday, less than a month after he returned to Capitol Hill from a stay in rehab that followed his arrest for cocaine possession. Gov. Rick Scott said Radel did the right thing for both his family and Florida.

Florida Congressman Trey Radel resigned Monday, less than a month after he returned to Capitol Hill from a stay in rehab that followed his arrest for cocaine possession. Gov. Rick Scott said Radel did the right thing for both his family and Florida.

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Florida Congressman Trey Radel is resigning less than a month after he returned to Capitol Hill from a stay in rehab that followed his arrest for cocaine possession.

In a resignation letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner, the freshman Republican said he feels he can no longer "fully and effectively serve" as a member of Congress in light of his "personal struggles."

"Unfortunately, some of my struggles had serious consequences," Radel wrote, "While I have dealt with those issues on a personal level, it is my belief that professionally I cannot fully and effectively serve as a United States Representative to the place I love and call home, Southwest Florida."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Monday that Radel had made the right decision by resigning.

"Well, first off I think he did the right thing for his family. He did the right thing for this state,” Gov. Rick Scott told reporters in Miami. "And I’m glad he's getting it taken care of. I think he went to rehab."

Radel pleaded guilty to a cocaine possession charge last year. As part of a plea agreement, Radel admitted to buying $250 worth of cocaine in a Washington, D.C., neighborhood from an undercover officer in October.

Radel was sentenced to one year of probation for the misdemeanor offense. Following his guilty plea, Radel entered a rehab program for alcoholism in Naples. Fla. He stayed at the Hazelden addiction treatment facility for nearly a month, leaving it on Dec. 19.

He returned to work at the beginning of the year, insisting that he would not step down. But his office confirmed to NBC News on Monday that the lawmaker intends to resign. His resignation will be effective as of 6:30 p.m. Monday.

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Several Republican leaders had called for Radel's resignation in recent months, including the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.  

"The people of Florida's 19th Congressional District need a Congressman who is 100 percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida," Chairman Lenny Curry said in a news release back in November. "Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family."

The House Ethics Committee also launched a formal investigation into Radel.

Radel was elected to represent Florida's 19th Congressional District, a safe Republican seat that stretches from Fort Myers to Marco Island in South Florida, in 2012. He faced a potentially competitive primary in his re-election bid this year, with several potential GOP challengers emerging in the wake of his legal and personal issues.

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