Embattled Rep. Trey Radel thus far is resisting calls from fellow Republicans to resign his seat, as a spokesman said Tuesday that the the freshman Florida congressman is focused on rehabilitation and returning to his job.
Mr. Radel was caught trying to purchase cocaine in Washington last month, and several top GOP officials in Florida, including the chairman of the state party, have called on him to resign after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession last week.
“Congressman Radel’s top priority right now is to complete his rehabilitation and then return to work as soon as possible,” a spokesman said in an e-mail Tuesday.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday that he agreed with GOP leaders who have called on Mr. Radel to step down and that his thoughts and prayers are with the congressman and his family, the AP reported.
Mr. Radel said outside a treatment facility that people are “harassing” him, but he declined to elaborate.
“I’m here talking to my buddy,” he told reporters in Naples, Fla., according to the Naples Daily News. “I feel great. I am here focused on my family and my health.”
Mr. Radel said last week he was taking a leave of absence from Congress to enter a rehabilitation program after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a sting operation in which federal authorities arrested him outside a Dupont Circle restaurant after he purchased cocaine from an undercover officer.
“It really is upsetting,” he said, “as I sit here and work on focusing on my family and health with people coming and harassing me.”
But when asked for details, Mr. Radel said, “I’ll just leave it at that.”
The Republican Party of Florida on Monday said Mr. Radel should resign.
“The people of Florida’s 19th Congressional District need a congressman who is 100 percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida. Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family,” state party Chairman Lenny Curry said in a statement late Monday.
Several newspapers in Mr. Radel’s district also have called for him to resign, as have the heads of the Lee County and Collier County Republican parties.
Endeavor Strategic Communications, a public relations firm founded by former House staffer Kurt Bardella, also announced this week it was hiring two of Mr. Radel’s former staffers, though the hiring process reportedly began well before the recent developments unfolded.