Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., said Thursday he has no plans to resign from Congress after being arrested trying to purchase cocaine in October, and that it was his struggles with alcoholism that led him to use the drug.
"I love what I do and I'm going to return to what I do, what you sent me to do in Washington D.C., which is working for you and your family while I relish mine," Radel said in a press conference following his release from a Florida rehab center.
Radel said he has used cocaine only “a handful of times,” and insisted he was never impaired while voting or carrying out any of his other congressional responsibilities.
“Alcohol does not work for me… It led me down a path that that slowly and surely chipped away at my relationship with my wife, my child and God," Radel said. "And it led to really bad decisions, which put me here today."
The south Florida congressman was charged with possession of cocaine after he attempted purchased 3.5 grams of the drug from an undercover officer in Washington, D.C. on October 29th. He pled guilty to the charge on November 20th and was sentenced to one year probation.
Radel on Thursday acknowledged that his recovery is ongoing, but that he has “a new focus” and looks forward to regaining the trust of his constituents. He said he has no plans to step down from his seat, but that“politics and re-election are the last thing on my mind right now.”
The first-term congressman, who following his arrest was criticized for voting for legislation that would allow states to drug test Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) recipients, also said that he would be in favor of drug testing Congress.
A House Ethics Committee announced this week it would investigate whether Radel violated Congressional rules when was arrested trying to purchase the drugs.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said the issue is “between Rep. Radel, his family and his constituents," and has not asked for his resignation.
Radel's wife, Amy, said she stands by her husband and believes his recovery will strengthen their relationship.
“I made a mistake and I know that. I let you down, I let our country down. And against for that I am sorry,” Trey Radel said.
NBC’s Frank Thorp contributed to this report.
First published December 19 2013, 4:14 PM