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Radel is first member of Congress convicted for cocaine

Florida Congressman Trey Radel appears to be in rare company.

The first-term Republican, who pleaded guilty Wednesday to drug charges in Washington, DC, appears to be the only member of Congress to have ever been convicted for cocaine use while in office, according a House Ethics Committee report detailing conducted cases in the chamber.

The only other member of Congress to be arrested and convicted on a drug charge was Rep. Frederick Richmond (D) of New York, who, 30 years ago, was convicted for marijuana use. Richmond, who also served as deputy finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, in 1982 also pleaded guilty to a felony charge of evading taxes and a misdemeanor regarding a government contract.

There were two House staffers involved in the 1983 congressional page scandal, who did plead guilty to two federal misdemeanors. Robert Yesh, who, in 1983, was the Majority Assistant Cloakroom manager, and James Beattie, who was with the Doorkeeper's Office, were accused of cocaine and marijuana use -- Yesh, specifically with pages.

There were several other cocaine allegations that the Ethics Committee investigated surrounding the page scandal, including accusations that two members -- Reps. Charles Wilson (D) of Texas and Ronald Dellums (D) of California -- had used cocaine and marijuana. But the committee found that those charges were not substantiated.

Yesh, in fact, told authorities that he had obtained drugs for Dellums -- and passed two lie detector tests. But a special counsel "found no basis" for the charges against the congressmen.

Drug use in Congress became a punch line back then. Former Astronaut and then-Ohio Sen. John Glenn joked at a fundraiser: ''I went to a colleague and asked if I could borrow some of his lines. He handed me a mirror and some funny white powder.''

To which Gary Hart, who was about to launch a presidential bid before dropping out because of his own cheating scandal, responded: ''It was worth the price of admission hearing the genuine American hero telling cocaine jokes.''

More recently, in 2006, former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D) pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs after he rammed a Capitol Hill barricade with his car.

President Barack Obama admitted to marijuana and cocaine use in his book, "Dreams from My Father." 

When questions persisted about former George W. Bush's drug use during his 2000 presidential campaign, he only responded, "I've made mistakes in the past, and I've learned from my mistakes."

Former President Bill Clinton also famously claimed that when he was in England, he "experimented" with marijuana "a time or two, and didn't like it, and didn't inhale and never tried it again." 

Here's a history of drugs in Congress, per the Ethics Committee report:

Rep. Frederick W. Richmond (NY) (1982) - Pleaded guilty to felony charge of evading federal taxes, two misdemeanors involving a government contract, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana (Aug. 25, 1982) 

Majority Assistant Cloakroom Manager Robert Yesh (1983) - Sold and used cocaine; used marijuana and cocaine with House pages - Preliminary Inquiry voted (Dec. 14, 1982) - pleaded guilty to two federal misdemeanors (March 9, 1983)

James Beattie  (Doorkeeper's Office) (1983) - Sold and used cocaine - Preliminary Inquiry (date not made public) - pleaded guilty to two federal misdemeanors (July 28, 1983)

Majority Chief Page James C. Howarth (1983) - Sexual relationship with a 17-year old female House page who was under his direct supervision [R. 43(1)], used cocaine, and preferential treatment of employee (allowed page to miss work). But: "sustained count regarding sexual relationship and dismissed other charges, 11-0 (Nov. 9, 1983); recommended dismissal, 11-0 (Nov. 15, 1983) 

Rep. Charles Wilson (TX) (1983) - alleged used cocaine and marijuana. BUT Ethics Committee found: Special Counsel investigated and found no basis for SAV; Comm. took no further action (Nov. 17, 1983) 

John Apperson (aide to Rep. Ronald Dellums) (1983), but also: Preliminary Inquiry voted (March 15, 1983); Special Counsel investigated and found no basis for charges; Comm. took no further action Nov. 17, 1983) 

Rep. Ronald Dellums (CA)(1983) - alleged that he used cocaine and marijuana, but a "Special Counsel investigated and found no basis for charges; Comm. took no further action (Nov. 17, 1983)"

Preliminary Inquiry against a Legislative Assistant (1983), but again found no basis for charges; Comm. took no further action (Nov. 17, 1983) 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post noted that Radel was arrested. While the sting operation took place Oct. 29, Radel was not arrested. NBC's Pete Williams reports that it was worked out with his lawyer and federal authorities that he would turn up in court and that he did not need to be held in jail pending the court appearance.

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