Freshman Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.), who was busted for cocaine possession last month, will resign from Congress effective Monday evening.
In a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Radel said he believes he cannot effectively serve as a member of Congress. His resignation is effective as of 6:30 p.m., according to the letter. [Read the letter below.]“Unfortunately, some of my struggles had serious consequences," Radel wrote to Boehner. "While I have dealt with those issues on a personal level, it is my belief that professionally I cannot fully and effectively serve as a United States Representative to the place I love and call home, Southwest Florida.”
He continued by thanking his colleagues from both parties in the House for their “tremendous support and encouragement.”
The announcement comes weeks after he returned to Capitol Hill following his arrest for purchasing cocaine.
After pleading guilty to cocaine possession and entering drug treatment, Radel, 37, had vowed to “rebuild and regain” the trust he had lost with constituents and colleagues.
But the freshman congressman faced pressure to resign from both Republicans and Democrats in Florida.
Earlier this month, former Florida state Rep. Paige Kreegel (R), became the first person to launch a primary campaign against Radel. He lost to Radel in the 2012 primary race for the open seat.
Given its electorate, Radel’s district in Southwest Florida is one Republicans will almost certainly keep. Less than a third of the district’s voters are registered Democrats.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district covering Fort Myers, Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Cape Coral in 2012 with more than 60 percent of the vote, and it hasn’t been held by a Democrat in decades.
Still, Radel’s exit will allow Republicans to avoid the distraction of a primary featuring an embattled incumbent.
In an interview on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” on Monday, GOP chairman Reince Priebus said Radel was “absolutely” doing the right thing in resigning.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) will set the date for a special election, which would likely happen in late June or early July, according to GOP campaign sources.Radel did not indicate what he planned to do next professionally but said, “I hope to contribute what I can to better our country in the years to come.”
Asked for Boehner's response to Radel's resignation, press secretary Michael Steel only said, "We have received the letter."
He also sent letters of resignation to Scott and the Florida Department of State.
The freshman congressman had won plenty of attention on Capitol Hill before his arrest. He stood out from the crown in part by highlighting his love for rap music, and referred to himself as a hip hop conservative.
He has served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Before his election, Radel worked as a TV anchor and reporter. He is married to a Florida TV anchor, and they have one son who was born in 2011.
Radel was charged with a misdemeanor for possession of a controlled substance following his November arrest. After he plead guilty, he was sentenced to a year of probation, random drug tests and a $250 fine.
He then took a leave of absence from Congress to attend rehab in Naples for alcohol abuse.
This story was updated at 2:02 p.m.