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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Was Trey Radel naive enough to think no one would notice his cocaine arrest?

Trey Radel during happier times, Mexico 2008


Trey Radel during happier times, Mexico 2008



His voice shaky, his words contrite yet hopeful, Rep. Trey Radel said Wednesday night that he would enter treatment for his problems but not resign.

But as sorry as he seemed, a review of events raise the question whether the 37-year-old Republican thought no one would notice he was swept up in a drug sting.

Radel was busted Oct. 29, but the arrest did not become public until this Tuesday, and only then did he inform House Speaker John Boehner. Radel’s legal first name is not Trey. It's Henry. So it would have not popped out in court documents. In D.C. the 8-ball of cocaine he bought for $260 warranted only a misdemeanor, a charge that doesn't attention. In Florida, he would have faced a felony.

Even if he was not that naive, there’s a whiff that maybe, just maybe, he’d get by.

Radel continued to vote and tweet (his nonstop presence on social media ranged from witty to partisan to buffoonish) as if nothing happened. He held a re-election fundraiser at a country club in Naples.

Donors were beckoned to “Gourmet with Trey”  -- not a sign from a man ready to beg for forgiveness.

A week ago today, Radel was the former TV reporter who happily chatted up Washington’s press corps. He told the Washington Post how during the government shutdown he had to drive his wife and child home because the boy had an ear infection. He lamented the stress commuting had on his family, stress he apparently worked off by getting intimate with D.C.’s bar scene.

“I have yet to have a bad martini in DC,” he told the Hill. “My favorite is Ketel One, up with blue cheese stuffed olives shaken by Mary at The Palm.”

Radel checked himself into a treatment facility Thursday, vowing to return a changed man. He has not once said he has a drug problem and initially blamed the cocaine purchase on alcoholism. But court documents show a different picture: Radel had been in Washington for less than a year and had already become a regular customer of a drug dealer, who gave him up to the cops.

Radel’s swift cooperation with the police -- leading them to his apartment he handed over more cocaine -- provided him kind treatment. He wasn’t booked into jail, so no mug shot and no news attention.

That ended Tuesday, and so did likely Radel's tenure as the representative for Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

[Last modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 9:34pm]


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