Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on Thursday filed a complaint against Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) following his cocaine possession conviction — calling on him to step down.
CREW asked the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to also investigate whether any other members of Congress or their staff used cocaine with Radel or helped him buy the drug.
“Has Rep. Radel been snorting cocaine with other members of Congress or congressional staff?” the group asked in a letter to the OCE.
Radel apologized after he was sentenced Wednesday to a year of probation for buying $250 worth of cocaine from an undercover police officer. Radel has said he is taking an extended leave of absence in order to undergo treatment in Florida, but he has made no mention of resigning from office.
The group’s executive director, Melanie Sloan, said the Ethics Committee should call on Radel to resign if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) doesn't do it first.
On Thursday, Boehner declined to say if Radel should step down, maintaining the charge is an issue between the Florida congressman and his family.
“The House Ethics Committee seems intent on ignoring Rep. Radel’s crimes, but cocaine possession by a government official sworn to uphold the law is no small matter,” Sloan said in a statement. “If House Speaker John Boehner does not demand his prompt resignation, the Ethics Committee should recommend Rep. Radel be expelled.”
The House Ethics Committee does not comment on specific cases. But the rules maintain that the committee must begin an inquiry into any member charged with a crime within 30 days or give reason for deciding against it.
The committee is required to open an inquiry into any felony conviction of a member. But Radel was charged with misdemeanor possession.
Sloan said Radel’s treatment by leadership stands in contrast to most low-level drug offenders. She also used a line first pushed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about a previous Republican vote to require drug testing of welfare recipients.
“What is more hypocritical than voting to drug test food stamp and public housing recipients, but brushing aside the drug use of House members?” Sloan asked.