- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Embattled Rep. Trey Radel is resisting calls from fellow Republicans to resign, as a spokesman said Tuesday the freshman Florida Republican is focused on rehabilitation and returning to work.

“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 email Tuesday.

Mr. Radel was caught trying to purchase cocaine in Washington last month, and several top GOP officials in Florida have called on him to step down from Congress after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession last week.

Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday he agreed with GOP leaders who have called on Mr. Radel to resign and that his thoughts and prayers are with the congressman and his family, the AP reported.

Mr. Radel said last week he was taking a leave of absence from Congress to enter a rehabilitation program after his guilty plea.

On Tuesday, talking to reporters outside a treatment facility in Naples, Fla., he said people are “harassing” him, but declined to elaborate.

“I’m here talking to my buddy,” he said, according to the Naples Daily News. “I feel great. I am here focused on my family and my health.”

“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.”

The state Republican Party said Monday that 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 and Collier County Republican parties.

Mr. Radel, 37, a onetime radio talk show host who represents a heavily Republican district, could be susceptible to a challenge from within the GOP next year.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, has said he believes Congress should be held to the highest ethical standard but that the issue is now between Mr. Radel, his family, and his constituents.

Endeavor Strategic Communications, a public relations firm spearheaded by former House staffer Kurt Bardella, announced this week it was hiring two of Mr. Radel’s former staffers, though the hiring processes reportedly began before the recent developments unfolded.

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