In response to questions concerning a possible congressional run for the seat held by U.S. Rep Trey Radel, who was arrested for possession of cocaine, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott has issued the following statement as clarification of his position "for once and for all":
Much has been said and written since the startling revelations that Congressman Trey Radel bought cocaine from undercover cops in our nation's capitol. While Radel returned to his Congressional office following a microwave stint in rehab and a gaggle of rehearsed apologies, I have hundreds of inmates in our jail that are unable to return to their home due to similar or lesser drug offenses. The sad reality is that Trey Radel does not even qualify to drive a Lee County school bus at this point, yet he occupies a seat in Congress. I have fired Deputies for less and the brave military personnel potentially affected by a Radel vote would be dishonorably discharged had they done what he did. Surely nobody believes that Trey Radel is the very best that Southwest Florida has to represent us.
Media professionals like Patrick Nolan (FOX), Kellie Burns (NBC), and Amanda Ballard (WINK) have done remarkable jobs pressing Radel with legitimate questions we all deserve answers to but he continues to sing out of tune with choreographed replies. He reduces hard questions about his cocaine use to a testimony of alcoholism and refuses to come clean about specifics that would lend perspective to the depth of his criminal behavior. Specifics the people he represents deserve answers (too). Was he abusing alcohol and/or using drugs during his campaign? Did his wife know of these transgressions when she was on television touting her husband's integrity and fitness to serve? Why did he wait so long to announce his misdeeds and how could he possibly go through with that high dollar fundraiser in Grey Oakes just days after his arrest? The depth of his deceit seems bottomless as he expects us to believe that the political cycle just around the corner is the furthest thing from his mind. Then why go through with that fundraiser? Why contact candidate rehabilitation experts during his brief time in rehab? Why not do the honorable thing and step down? The answers are clear to me. Trey Radel hopes the bar and standard in our country has been lowered to the point that he can limbo back into office despite his inexcusable conduct.
Trey Radel was not properly vetted during his inaugural run for office and despite red flags like his penchant for pornographic websites; he was elevated to a pedestal by lapdogs like the News-Press who now try to retreat from their glowing endorsements.
I have been overwhelmed by the call from many that I run for Radel's seat, and though humbled, I am a man of unwavering commitment to my position as Sheriff and my chosen career in law enforcement. I wish Trey Radel all the best in his personal life; however, I will be a staunch advocate for his political replacement, and I plan to vigorously support viable candidates at every opportunity. Whatever political capital I have will be brought to bear ensuring that the decency we deserve is restored to the 19th congressional district.
After his October arrest became known in December when he was sentenced to probation on a misdemeanor charge of purchasing $250 worth of cocaine, Radel aplogized to his family and constituents and entered a rehabilitation facility. He returned to his congressional office in Washington D.C. this month.