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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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November 21, 2013 - 7:54 am

Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.), busted for buying cocaine from an undercover officer in Dupont Circle, will take a leave of absence from his job to seek treatment.

Radel said he’ll donate his salary to charity during that time. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession on Wednesday and was sentenced to a year of probation and a $250 fine (incidentally, the same amount he offered the officer for the cocaine).

“I’m sorry. I have no excuse for what I’ve done. And I’m not going to sit here and try and make any excuses for what I’ve done. I have let down our country. I’ve let down our constituents. I’ve let down my family. Including my wife, and even though he doesn’t know it, I’ve let down my 2-year-old son. I’m here tonight to take responsibility for what I did,” the freshman congressman told reporters.

Radel said he’s been receiving treatment since the bust at the end of October and would continue to do so to “be a better man.”

He said he held the news conference “because it is important that I share the message of responsibility.”

“I’m owning up to my actions. I am taking responsibility and I’m living it very publicly. I’m being held accountable for the decisions that I made in my life and I am — I have found treatment and I’m working on treatment and like anything in life I have to rebuild that trust and I fully understand that and I will do that,” he said. “I have to rebuild the trust with Southwest Florida, with the constituents, with this home that I love so much and means so much to me. And I also need to do it for my family, for my wife and for my son.”

Radel’s wife, former news anchor Amy Wegmann, wasn’t present at the presser.

“My wife is my rock and she has been so supportive through this, and I came to her and I told her what had happened, and she said, ‘I married you in — to be with you and stick with you in good times and bad,’ and she has been incredible,” he said. “I do have trust to rebuild and I have to mend her heart, which I’ve broken, and I’ve broken a lot of hearts, and I need to regain that trust and rebuild our relationship, but she has stuck with me and will continue to stick with me, and I’m just so proud to have my wife. She is my rock through all of this.”

The congressman said he’s “going to start with intensive inpatient treatment.”

“Sometimes in life you need a wake-up call. This is my wake-up call. I’ve been struggling with this, but I have had my wake-up call and I now know what I need. I need to take responsibility, own up to the decisions that I’ve made, and move forward, and I’m doing just that,” Radel added.

His staff will keep the office open and serve constituents’ needs during his absence.

“I knew that this day would come. I knew it would come. I had had to be accountable and responsible and open with my wife, and all of my family,” said Radel. “…I grew up with a mom who struggled with alcoholism. It is not an easy thing to deal with. Now I don’t want my son to go through that.”

Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office said Boehner won’t be calling on Radel to resign. ”Members of Congress should be held to the highest standards, and the alleged crime will be handled by the courts. Beyond that, this is between Rep. Radel, his family, and his constituents,” the office said in a statement.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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