POLITICS

Cocaine Congressman Trey Radel Draws $1 Million Super PAC Challenge

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20:   Rep. Henry 'Trey'  Radel (R-FL) exits DC Superior court after pleading guilty to misdemeanor
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: Rep. Henry 'Trey' Radel (R-FL) exits DC Superior court after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges of posession of cocaine on November 20, 2013. On October 29th, according to the account provided by authorities, Radel and a friend met an undercover agent at a restaurant in Dupont Circle. Radel invited the friend and the agent back to his home. The agent declined, and Radel purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine, estimated to be worth $250, in the officers car. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Rep. Trey Radel, the Florida Republican congressman arrested for cocaine possession in October, plans to return to work next week after a brief stint in rehab. But Republicans in his home state aren't exactly rooting for his comeback on Capitol Hill, with a super PAC raising more than $1 million for a potential primary challenge to Radel in 2014.

Values are Vital PAC hauled in $1,010,000 in December from two donors, according to a campaign finance report submitted to the Federal Election Commission, first reported by Bloomberg News. Ronald Firman, the group's treasurer, donated $525,000, while Las Vegas lawyer Martin Burns contributed $485,000.

Values are Vital was created shortly after Radel pleaded guilty in late November to possessing cocaine. The freshman lawmaker was busted Oct. 29 after purchasing cocaine from an undercover officer at a restaurant in Washington.

Radel confirmed Thursday that he would resume work in Washington next Tuesday, after spending less than a month in a rehab facility in Naples, Fla.

"I look forward to getting back to work next week representing my neighbors in Southwest Florida as they face the burdens of Obamacare, a jobless recovery, and a federal government that continues to spend more than it takes in," Radel said in a statement.

Values are Vital chairman Anthony Farhat told the Tampa Bay Times he remained unconvinced Radel could fulfill his role in Congress.

"He created his own demise," Farhat told the paper in an interview published on Wednesday. “I’m not trying to scare or intimate anybody. I’m just trying to do what I can as a business owner in this district. … I’m trying to say, 'Hey, I don’t want to see our district continue to make mistakes.'"

Farhat donated to former state Rep. Paige Kreegel in the 2012 GOP congressional primary that Radel won. He has declined to endorse any candidate on behalf of the super PAC. Kreegal has not said whether he intends to run. Former Republican Rep. Connie Mack hasn't ruled out running for Radel's seat.

Other Florida officials have called for Radel's resignation, including Gov. Rick Scott R and the Republican Party of Florida. Radel also remains under House Ethics Committee investigation for his drug possession.

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