Embattled Florida Congressman Radel to return to Capitol Hill
Fri Jan 3, 2014 6:40pm EST
By Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI (Reuters) - Six weeks after he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and checked into a rehab clinic, Florida Congressman Henry "Trey" Radel 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.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson)