His name is Trey Radel. And he wants you to believe he has an alcohol problem.
But the Republican congressman also has a cocaine problem. And his cocaine problem led to an arrest problem. So now he has a political problem.
Radel wouldn’t even say the word “cocaine” at a Thursday press , which he held after he left a Naples rehab. He instead repeatedly talked about “alcohol” and “alcoholism.”
And that makes for an honesty problem.
“I don’t lie,” Radel said. “What I am doing is taking full responsibility and being held accountable among all aspects.”
False. Radel’s 20-minute press conference was a work of deceit and accountability-avoidance. It was more of the same stretching back to his October arrest in Washington.
“The height of deceit,” Mike Scott, Lee County’s conservative firebrand of a sheriff, called it, according to Fox-4. Scott has denied coveting the office, but other potential candidates are lining to take Radel out with the GOP establishment’s help.
Despite all the talk about alcohol Thursday, Radel didn’t get arrested for anything related to booze. He was arrested for buying cocaine. A lot of cocaine: 3.5 grams of it, a so-called “8-ball,” a sizable amount that’s a felony in Florida but a misdemeanor in DC.
The federal arrest records show the freshman Radel had a regular dealer. He was known to “purchase cocaine for his personal use and also, on occasion, share it with others,” according to the Statement of Offense signed by defendant Henry J. Radel, III, on Nov. 20, 2013.
The next day he checked into Naples rehab. The day he checked out, Thursday, the former TV news anchor made sure to hold a top-of-the-news 6 p.m. live press conference.
He gave the standard paint-by-numbers road-to-recovery one-day-at-time cliché-a-thon speech about honesty, God, family, redemption, bipartisanship, his wife, his little boy and, of course, setting up the Christmas tree. He had to say “Christmas tree” twice.
He never talked about the nose-snow, though.
And the reporters noticed. The first questions: Were you addicted to cocaine, how long have you used it?
“A handful of times,” Radel said. “I’ve been treated for the disease of alcoholism. Alcoholism is my issue. This is what has happened clinically. Clinically I’m being treated for the disease of alcoholism.”
That’s clinical denial.
There’s no way he used cocaine “a handful of times.” The freshman political newcomer assumed office this year. He promptly got a cocaine dealer and started buying large sums and having blow-bashes.
That’s what regular cocaine users do. They buy cocaine regularly. So do cocaine addicts. Especially in Colombia. Radel loved to visit there. And there, he once told a coworker before running for office, the cocaine is so good that “Oh my God, you have no idea.”
Yet on Thursday, Radel gave it the ole college dodge by refusing to say how often he used it.
“I’m not going to sit here and give the reporters’ log of all of my life. But it’s been a handful of times,” he said. “And like many others in college, I experimented with drugs.”
How about these other people he used cocaine with; were any involved in political life in the Capitol?
Radel denied it.
“It’s a private person,” Radel said, implicitly stressing it wasn’t others. Person is singular. But Radel, as noted above, swore in a court document that he did it with “others.” Plural.
Asked if he planned run for reelection, Radel said he wasn’t thinking about that. But his prepared remarks revolved around how he wanted to continue to be a “servant” and how he has an “indisputable” voting record “fighting for you and your family.”
That’s not the language of recovery. That’s campaign talk.
“I have worked very hard to build up solid relationships with both parties to find solutions and get something done,” Radel said.
His record shows otherwise on major bills from food-stamp cuts (he supported them) to the Violence Against Women Act (he opposed it). And, perhaps most tellingly, Radel was one of the original signatories of an August letter to House Speaker John Boehner that demanded defunding for Obamacare, leading to the government shutdown.
So the guy talking about getting things done was an original government shutdown supporter and voter. Oh, yeah, this is also the least-productive Congress in modern times. And while he was in rehab, he missed the one major bipartisan act this year: the budget vote.
Way to get things done, Trey.
From the moment his arrest became public -- the day before he was sentenced to probation -- Radel shaded the truth.
“I struggle with the disease of alcoholism,” he said in a Nov. 19 statement, “and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice.”
Again: singular, “choice.” Again: he did it multiple times, not just once.
Radel’s big regret seems to be getting caught.
“I have a lot of a work that I have to do to rebuild the trust,” Radel said.
He could start by telling the truth.