Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott unloads on Trey Radel

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Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott will not seek U.S. Rep. Trey Radel’s South Florida congressional seat, but he will actively support any “viable Republican” who does.

“I am a man of unwavering commitment to my position as Sheriff,” Scott said this weekend in a strongly worded post on the agency’s Facebook page, “and my chosen career in law enforcement.”

Many leaders statewide called for Radel’s resignation, including Gov. Rick Scott and GOP leaders from Lee and Collier Counties, after his guilty plea for cocaine possession November 19. Radel recently returned to Congress last week after a month-long stint in a Naples rehab.

Florida’s Congressional District 19 is now seen up for grabs – with several potential candidates weighing their chances.

Sheriff Scott, the Republican who has led Lee County’s SO since 2004, stands out with a particularly scathing condemnation of the disgraced Tea Party activist from Fort Myers. Although he has fielded “overwhelming” calls to run, Scott declined, but not before blasting Radel for his lack of judgment.

“The sad reality is that Trey Radel does not even qualify to drive a Lee County school bus at this point,” Scott said, “yet he occupies a seat in Congress.”

Scott, angered by the congressman’s “microwave stint in rehab” and artificial attempts at apology, took particular offense to Radel’s return to Congress, saying he “fired Deputies for less.”

“I have hundreds of inmates in our jail that are unable to return to their home due to similar or lesser drug offenses,” Scott’s missive continues. “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.”

Scott lauded local media professionals such as Patrick Nolan, Kellie Burns, and Amanda Hall for the “remarkable jobs pressing Radel with legitimate questions we all deserve answers,” but Radel “continues to sing out of tune with choreographed replies.” He called out others as “lapdogs like the News-Press” that are now walking away from earlier endorsements.

The sheriff also noted several “red flags” proving that Radel was “not properly vetted during his inaugural run,” such as a “penchant for pornographic websites.”

Pointing out Radel’s attendance at a Grey Oakes fundraiser just days after his arrest, Scott questioned the “depth of his deceit (which) seems bottomless as he expects us to believe that the political cycle just around the corner is the furthest thing from his mind.”

“I wish Trey Radel all the best in his personal life,” Scott concludes, “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,” he added, “will be brought to bear ensuring that the decency we deserve is restored.” 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.