Trey Radel returns to Congress while Fla. Republicans circle his seat

Florida Congressman Trey Radel who pleaded guilty to cocaine possession, will rejoin Congress this week. A Super PAC has already pledged $1 million to a politician planning to challenge him, and Republican Governor Rick Scott has also expressed interest in his seat. 

Steve Nesius/Reuters/File
Rep. Henry "Trey" Radel (R-Fla.) pauses as he meets with local media during a news conference at his district office in Cape Coral, Florida, in November, 2013. Six weeks after pleading guilty to cocaine possession and checking into a Florida treatment clinic for nearly a month, Congressman Radel will rejoin Congress on Tuesday when the new House session opens.

Six weeks after he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and checked into a rehab clinic, Florida Congressman Henry "TreyRadel will rejoin Congress when the new session begins next week, his spokesman said on Friday.

Radel spokesman Greg Dolan declined to immediately confirm a report by Gannett that the Republican representative is enrolled in an out-patient program in Washington. The report said he has joined a peer counseling group, will be randomly drug-tested and meet with a counselor two to five times a week.

Radel, 37, whose election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 had the backing of the conservative Tea Party movement, was charged in November with buying 3.5 grams of cocaine in Washington on October 29, in the presence of an undercover agent.

"I look forward to getting back to work next week, representing my neighbors in Southwest Florida as they face the burdens of Obamacare, a jobless recovery, and a federal government that continues to spend more than it takes in," Radel said in a statement.

The House Committee on Ethics in December said it would launch an investigation into whether Radel violated congressional rules or broke any other laws related to his responsibilities as a member of Congress.

Radel has rebuffed calls for his resignation from the Republican Party of Florida and Governor Rick Scott, even as other Florida Republicans have expressed interest in his seat.

A Super PAC backed by a real estate developer has already pledged $1 million to a Florida politician who recently filed documents to challenge Radel for his seat in the fall election.

Radel has yet to announce whether he'll seek re-election.

"Politics is the last thing on his mind," Dolan told Reuters on Friday. 

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