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Cocaine in Politics

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Florida Representative Trey Radel pleaded guilty to cocaine possession charges in D.C. last week, and subsequently took a leave of absence from Congress. However, despite calls for him to resign, it appears the freshman Republican Congressman may stick it out.

Radel was nabbed in an undercover sting at a D.C. hotspot. He discussed price, quality and how much he wanted to buy – and then got busted when he went out to the parking lot to finalize the deal. The Congreessman had been suspected of using cocaine, at least according to the Washington Post. After his guilty plea, Raydel was sentenced to a year’s probation (including drug treatment).

It must be fairly common – a relatively young politician (Radel is 37) comes to Washington D.C. and gets involved in things they ought to avoid. Was it the heady mix of money, power and the bright lights of D.C., or was Radel merely continuing a vice he’d brought with him from Florida? After all, the state is known for more than its oranges.

The usual voices are calling for Radel’s resignation, including three “top Florida Republican leaders” (according to Politico). If he doesn’t give up his office, these same leaders say they won’t support Radel in a 2014 election. The offense itself, cocaine possession, doesn’t require leaving Congress – it’s just a misdemeanor, but as is often the case, Radel is held to a higher standard and will lose his conservative credibility if he is seen as a drug user. The House leadership has taken a more even keeled approach, saying the decision is up to him and his family.

There is one positive here. Our system of laws and enforcement isn’t tossed aside when a powerful person steps over the line. It’s nice to see that even our most revered citizens are subject to arrest and prosecution when warranted.


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