Republican Representative Trey Radel of Florida has been charged with cocaine possession after getting caught buying the substance during a federal sting operation, according to reports. He will be arraigned on Wednesday.
The self-dubbed ‘hip hop conservative’, who was swept into office with support of Tea Partiers in Florida’s 19th Congressional District last year, was the target of a joint undercover operation by the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency. A drug dealer in the swish Dupont Circle neighborhood who is under investigation himself allegedly told agents that the 37-year-old politician was a buyer, prompting the October 29 sting.
After Radel purchased the cocaine, federal agents confronted him at his home and informed him of the operation. He was never handcuffed or arrested, but legal discussions between prosecutors and his legal defense soon followed. Radel was formally given a misdemeanor charge on Tuesday, and faces at most 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The freshman lawmaker, who is married and has a young son, has publicly apologized for his actions and blamed his decision to buy cocaine on a drinking problem. He wrote on his Facebook page that he will seek treatment.
Details about Radel’s background have surfaced in light of the criminal charges. The former journalist and conservative radio show host is known for being a Spanish-speaker and once remarked that Cartagena, Colombia, is his favorite vacation spot outside of Florida, a detail some journalists exploited to link Radel to cocaine use.
Minority leader Nancy Pelosi also took the opportunity to remind the public that Radel voted in favor of drug testing food stamp recipients, calling for Republicans to so more compassion to people who struggle with drug abuse.
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