Washington, D.C. — “Zero tolerance” for drug offenders doesn’t apply when it’s a member of Congress who gets busted. Americans witnessed this shameful D.C. double standard unfold last month after the House Republican leadership closed ranks around a colleague who admitted to buying cocaine. For their inexcusable disregard for the laws they are sworn to uphold, CREW’s voters awarded Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) the joint title of November’s Scoundrel of the Month.
Following his arrest in late October, Rep. Radel pleaded guilty to cocaine possession. Rather than resign, Rep. Radel took a leave of absence from Congress and entered rehab, blaming the drug use on an alcohol dependency. But the Florida congressman didn’t always believe drug offenders deserve a second chance — earlier this year, the freshman lawmaker joined his colleagues in voting for mandatory drug testing for food stamp and public housing recipients.
In spite of their avowed “zero-tolerance” policy for ethics violations, House Republican leaders refused to hold Rep. Radel accountable, leaving it to CREW to ask the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate his violation. Declining to call for the congressman’s resignation, Speaker Boehner told reporters, “The issue is between [Radel] and his family and his constituents.” In 2011, however, the speaker demanded the immediate resignation of then-Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) after a shirtless photo of the congressman surfaced online, and Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) was pushed out after it was revealed he was having an extramarital affair.
“The Rep. Radel fiasco highlights the hypocrisy of members of Congress willing to overlook the criminal behavior of their colleagues, while coming down hard on other Americans who may have engaged in similar conduct,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Members of Congress swear to uphold the laws. Those who break them must be held accountable.”
Nominations are already being accepted for December’s Scoundrel of the Month. People, entities, and agencies are all eligible. Submit your choices by Friday, December 20th. Voting will begin the following week.