Trey Radel, the Republican congressman who was arrested for buying cocaine from an undercover agent in Washington late last year, will resign from Congress today, according to multiple reports. Here's Politico, which appears to have been the first one to land the scoop, with the details of what comes next:
The first-term Republican plans to send a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Monday, sources said. It’s up to Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott to schedule a special election for Radel’s seat. His southwest Florida district is solidly Republican — Mitt Romney won the district with 61 percent of the vote.
The race for Radel’s seat had begun even before he decided to resign. Republican Paige Kreegel, a former state representative, has already launched a campaign for the 19th district. Kreegel, who finished third to Radel in a 2012 primary, has drawn the support of a super PAC, which has raised $1 million with the intention of helping him win the seat. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Republican leader in the Florida Senate in Tallahassee, is widely expected to run for the seat. Former Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who held the seat before Radel, has also mulled a run.
Radel pleaded guilty in November to misdemeanor cocaine possession and was sentenced by a D.C. judge to one year's probation. "I've hit a bottom where I realize I need help," the first-term Republican congressman told the judge then, acknowledging that he bought 3.5 grams of coke at a restaurant in Dupont Circle restaurant the previous month. After pleading guilty, the Florida lawmaker took a leave of absence from Congress and checked himself into rehab, where he remained for about a month. He later returned to Congress following the winter recess.