For Trey Radel, anything must seem possible. He's already performed the insane mental gymnastics required to re-imagine Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" as a conservative anthem. And he was able to withstand the cognitive dissonance that must come from being a narcotics abuser and alcoholic who insists that food stamps recipients undergo drug tests. So perhaps it's not surprising that the congressman refused to resign yesterday in a press conference held just after he was released from treatment.
Despite pleas from fellow Florida Republicans, the freshman politician declined to step down from his post, saying he wants to focus on rebuilding his constituents' trust.
Just in case anyone forgot how the "cocaine congressman" got his name: On October 29th, the 37-year-old Radel purchased 3.5 grams of coke from an undercover D.C officer. On November 20th, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor possession charge, and the next day he began a month-long stay in Hazelden, a Naples rehab center.
Radel claimed he'd only used the drug a few times since college, although it's hard to imagine that anyone could come up with this confused screed while operating with a sober mind. In his press release yesterday evening, Radel said that he believes politicians should be drug tested in the future. He simultaneously claimed that his drug abuse had no effect on his job, and was only something he did on his personal time -- presumably while "hearting" such Buzzfeed classics as "Ronald Reagan's 31 Most YOLO Moments" and "Which Congressman is Batman?"
(Also check out this gem of a press release about Radel knocking back a cold one, writing a Skymall listicle and "winning the Internet.")
But even if Radel's constituents in Naples and Fort Myers decide to turn a blind eye to the politician's past, that doesn't mean everything will be smooth sailing from here on out. The House Ethics Committee has launched a formal investigation into Radel's past, and if they don't like what they find there, they may force him to resign as opposed to strongly suggesting that he do so.
Not to mention, the odds are kind of against the guy. Although a relapse rate for addicts is difficult to pin down, some researchers estimate it can be as high as 80 percent, and that it's not reasonable to expect lifelong abstinence after their first treatment experience. At the very best, mixing new sobriety with the high stresses of the political world, might go as well for Radel as it did for Peter Russo in the acclaimed Netflix series "House of Cards." (Spoiler: It did not go well for Peter Russo in the acclaimed Netflix series "House of Cards.")
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