Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) for conduct that reflects discreditably upon the House following his conviction of a drug charge.
On November 20, 2013, Rep. Radel pleaded guilty to one count of possession of cocaine, stemming from his October 29 arrest. Charging documents suggest prosecutors may have been prepared to charge the congressman with the felony of possession with intent to distribute, but reduced the charge as part of a plea agreement. Rep. Radel has stated he will not resign and House Republican leadership has stated the issue is one for the courts, Rep. Radel, his family, and his constituents.
“The remarkably sympathetic treatment Rep. Radel is receiving from the House Republican conference stands in stark contrast to the treatment of low-level, mostly poor and minority drug offenders,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “What is more hypocritical than voting to drug test food stamp and public housing recipients, but brushing aside the drug use of House members?”
Despite Rep. Radel’s criminal conviction, House Republican leaders have not called on him to step down, contradicting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) avowed “zero-tolerance” policy for ethics violations. Rep. Radel’s conduct violates the Code of Ethics for Government Service as well as House Rule 23, which requires all members of the House to conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.”
CREW’s complaint notes there are many unanswered questions requiring investigation. For example, how did Rep. Radel, who has been in D.C. for less than a year, meet a Dupont Circle-area drug dealer? Who made the introduction? Court documents indicate Rep. Radel shared cocaine with unnamed others. Did members of Congress or congressional staff facilitate the purchase of or use cocaine with Rep. Radel?
Sloan continued, “Unbelievably, the House Ethics Committee seems intent on ignoring Rep. Radel’s crimes, but cocaine possession by a government official sworn to uphold the law is no small matter. If House Speaker John Boehner does not demand his prompt resignation, the Ethics Committee should recommend Rep. Radel be expelled.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202-408-5565 or email@example.com.
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David Merchant, 202-408-5565