Southwest Florida's representation in Congress will continue to suffer as Rep. Trey Radel concentrates on his personal recovery and rehabilitation, according to April Freeman, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Florida's 19th Congressional District.
"While I wish Rep. Radel well on a personal basis, the fact is that he has failed Southwest Florida on so many levels that it is clear that he needs to be replaced with completely new leadership," said Freeman. "He is failing to put the interests of Southwest Floridians first and his refusal to resign demonstrates considerable selfishness."
Radel was arrested in Washington, DC on Oct. 29 for purchasing and possessing cocaine. He pleaded guilty on Nov. 20 and took a month-long leave of absence to go into rehabilitation therapy for alcoholism. One week after his arrest he conducted a fundraising dinner without telling donors of the arrest and his imminent plea. On Dec. 19 he announced that he had recovered and would concentrate his efforts on addressing his personal problems.
"While Southwest Florida went unrepresented due to Radel's absence, the US Congress passed an important two-year budget bill. Southwest Floridians had no say, no vote and no representation in these important deliberations. That is going to continue as long as Radel continues to put his primary focus on his personal problems," said Freeman. "Despite what he says, Radel is in fact ignoring Southwest Florida."
The House Ethics Committee is conducting a probe into Radel's actions and could recommend his censure, reprimand or removal.
"While the Ethics Committee conducts what we expect will be a complete and thorough investigation, Rep. Radel will have no credibility in Congress. I expect that he will have no credibility among Southwest Floridians who have a right to expect much better behavior and service from their public officials. Between him defending himself in the Ethics probe and working on his personal problems, the needs of Southwest Florida voters and businesses will go unaddressed and unrepresented," said Freeman.
"Even before his arrest, Radel was pursuing extremist policies that damaged the country and hurt Southwest Floridians. He voted to continue the government shutdown and send the country into default, destroying the full faith and credit of the United States. His votes put seniors at risk and threatened Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- and that was while he was under the sway of his admitted alcoholism."
The time has come for a complete change in Southwest Florida's congressional representation, according to Freeman.
"Southwest Floridians have a right to expect clean, sober and caring representation in Congress that puts their interests first. In Congress I will defend our seniors and pursue policies that make sense and work to the benefit of all Southwest Floridians. The time has come for a complete change and I am ready to bring that change."
April Freeman is a wife, mother and businesswoman who lives in Cape Coral, Fla. She is chief executive officer of Spiked Heel Productions, a full service film and television production company with offices in Southwest Florida, California and Michigan. She was an organizing fellow for President Barack Obama in Lee County, Fla., in 2012 and served as deputy state lead and press liaison for Florida for the National Day of Service.
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