Tags: Radel | Gingrich | cocaine | quit

Gingrich: No Need for Cocaine Rep. Radel to Quit

Image: Gingrich: No Need for Cocaine Rep. Radel to Quit

By Todd Beamon   |   Saturday, 30 Nov 2013 09:45 PM

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Saturday that Florida Rep. Trey Radel should not immediately leave the House of Representatives despite admitting to cocaine possession, as he's undergoing treatment.

"The burden is on him to prove that he has genuinely been rehabilitated," Gingrich said at a book-signing, in the Republican rookie's Florida district, the Naples Daily News reports.

"He needs to slow down, focus on rehabilitation and people will be patient."

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Gingrich and his wife, Callista, were in Naples for Thanksgiving, according to the Daily News. They promoted their books on Saturday at a Barnes & Noble store — "Breakout" by the 2012 Republican presidential candidate and "Yankee Doodle Dandy," a children's book, by his wife.

Radel, 37, a freshman congressman backed by the tea party, entered a Naples rehabilitation center last week. He took a leave of absence from Congress after pleading guilty in Washington to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession and receiving a sentence of a year's probation.

The congressman said that he would donate his salary to charity while he was in treatment. Radel was arrested on Oct. 29 in a cocaine sting operation and had faced a maximum of 180 days in jail and $1,000 fine. He had purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover police officer.

Both Florida's Republican Party and the state's GOP Gov. Rick Scott have called for Radel to quite the house, but Gingrich said ultimately voters will decide whether he should get another chance.

"Does he come out of rehab genuinely changed or is it all a gimmick?" he posed to the Daily News. "If it’s a gimmick, he won’t survive. The example we had with (former U.S. congressman Anthony) Weiner in New York is that people will forgive you once. They won’t forgive you twice."

Weiner resigned from the House in disgrace in 2011 after he sent a lewd photo of himself to a woman on Twitter that actually went to all of his followers, exposing his larger sexting issue with other women. He tried to make a comeback running for mayor of New York and after leading briefly in the polls, finished badly after new sexting allegations arose, this time from a former Indiana college student.

"I think that there is a tendency, first of all, for people to have (Radel’s) family in their prayers," Gingrich added. "It’s Thanksgiving and Christmas season."

Radel represents Florida's 19th district, which includes Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, and Marco Island. The seat was vacated by GOP Rep. Connie Mack IV, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate.

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