Dem: Ethics should probe Radel’s cocaine conviction

Democrat April Freeman is confident she can take down Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.), who pled guilty to cocaine possession last month.

The businesswoman and Democratic activist argues Radel should resign form office and that his decision to take a leave of absence to attend rehab is troubling because it leaves the residents of Florida's 19th District without representation.

ADVERTISEMENT
While in Washington, she urged the House Ethics Committee to investigate him because, she said, his misconduct might have involved others.

“I think that there are other members that he's — staff members — that might be implicated [in an investigation],” she said. “And I think something should be done, at least he should be fined, if not removed.”

Freeman believes Radel’s troubles have created a race for his seat, though the Republican might first have to survive a primary fight. The Florida GOP has called for Radel's resignation, but he's pledged to remain in office.

If he survives a primary, Freeman hopes to take him down.

During a two-day trip to Washington, she met with the Democratic National Committee and EMILY's List, the group that backs pro-choice female Democratic candidates.

Freeman told The Hill that her meeting with the DNC was "fantastic… far better than I expected," and that the DNC promised help, possibly in the form of a fundraiser headlined by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the group’s chairwoman.

“We can look forward to working closely with Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D-Fla.], being that she is from Florida,” Freeman campaign manager David Levin said.

The DNC confirmed they discussed support for the candidate, and a potential Wasserman Schultz fundraiser, when they met with Freeman.

Freeman has raised and spent less than $5,000 since she announced her candidacy, but hopes to raise $100,000 by the close of the fourth quarter.

“I have actually pledges for much more than that, but I'm hoping it'll all come in before the holidays so that we can actually file that large filing after the first of the year,” she said.

Freeman is currently the only Democrat in the race, and her bid has always been a long shot.

Democratic strategists agree her chances have only slightly improved with Radel's conviction. If he loses a primary, she could face a tougher opponent.

Radel’s district went for Mitt Romney with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2012 and hasn't been represented by a Democrat in decades. Less than a third of voters in the district are registered Democrats.

But Freeman says she sees a path to victory, regardless of who makes it through the primary, as she believes the GOP will “probably have to pay for his sins.”

— This piece was updated at 9:09 a.m.

More in House races

House Dems recruiting ex-lieutenant governor nominee for Florida challenge

Read more »