Fla.'s GOP chair calls on Radel to step down

November 25, 2013 - 11:35 PM
Congressman Drug Possession

FILE - This Sept. 3, 2013, file photo, shows Rep. Henry "Trey" Radel, R-Fla., on Capitol Hill in Washington. The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, called for Radel to step down following his recent cocaine conviction. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

MIAMI (AP) — The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida on Monday called for U.S. Rep. Trey Radel to step down following his recent cocaine conviction.

Chairman Lenny Curry joined a growing number of Republican leaders from Radel's district demanding his resignation.

"The people of Florida's 19th Congressional District need a Congressman who is 100 percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida," Curry said in a news release. "Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family."

Radel pleaded guilty to cocaine possession last week, acknowledging that he purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine last month from an undercover police officer. He has since taken a leave of absence and checked himself into a rehabilitation facility.

As part of a plea agreement, Radel admitted he agreed to buy the cocaine for $250 in a Washington neighborhood on Oct. 29. After the undercover officer gave Radel the drugs, federal agents confronted him, court documents show. Radel agreed to talk with the agents and invited them to his apartment, where he also retrieved a vial of cocaine he had in the home, the documents said.

The Collier County Republican Executive Committee also called on Radel to leave office Monday, stating the group would not support him in future elections.

"While the decision to complete the current term is his alone to make, we strongly encourage him to reflect on his ability to remain effective and that a return to Congress may serve only as an impediment to his recovery," Chairman Mike Lyster said in a release. "We feel it is in the best interests of all involved that he resign immediately."

Radel spokeswoman Amanda Nunez did not return a telephone phone call Monday night seeking comment. During his hearing last week, Radel said he wanted to "continue serving this country."