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CREW Asks if Radel Shared Cocaine Around the Hill

Has Rep. Trey Radel been snorting cocaine with other members of Congress or congressional staff?

The watchdogs at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington are calling on the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate that, and many other questions surrounding the Florida Republican’s conduct during his first 10 months on Capitol Hill.

Radel, center, leaving court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Radel, center, leaving court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“As a member of Congress who has lived in the District of Columbia for less than a year, how did he become acquainted with a cocaine dealer?” writes CREW in a four-page letter to the independent, nonpartisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against members, officers and staff of the House.

The OCE does not publicly comment on which matters it chooses to investigate. When the fact-finding office looks into a violation, it hands over its findings to the House Ethics Committee, when appropriate.

So far, Ethics Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, has not weighed in on Radel’s guilty plea to the misdemeanor crime.

“We don’t talk about it. I can’t comment,” Conaway told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday. “I don’t comment on Ethics Committee stuff no matter what it is.”

Under House Rules, the panel is obligated to “empanel an investigative subcommittee to review the allegations” within 30 days of an indictment or charge against a member of Congress.

“Unbelievably, 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,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement.

Despite the conviction, House Republicans have not called on Radel to step down. Radel has announced a leave of absence from D.C. while he seeks treatment.

CREW also wants to know if members or staffers here in Washington helped Radel score his drugs by purchasing or facilitating the sales.

Court documents point out that the Oct. 29 purchase the charge stemmed from was far from the first time Radel used the drug. He blames the problem on an addiction, but CREW calls that irrelevant from an ethics standpoint.

The complaint alleges “many questions remain about the extent of Rep. Radel’s drug use and the possible involvement of other members of Congress and congressional staff … it is incumbent on the Office of Congressional Ethics to conduct a thorough investigation of this matter.”

Sloan believes exploring how far Radel’s drug use might have spread within Congress is a logical step, especially given his freshman status.

“You can’t just walk into Dupont Circle and meet a drug dealer,” she said. “And who does he hang out with? Likely he hangs out with people who work in Congress.”

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

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