Gowdy Carries 'Confidence' of Boehner and Hopes of Right as Benghazi Chairman
In a letter to Boehner dated May 6, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California -- whom Gowdy once described as “mind-numbingly stupid” during an appearance on a Fox News show -- and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, maintained that “more than a new chairman is needed to correct the obvious deficiencies in this partisan Republican oversight. What is needed is a fundamentally different approach.”
“If you truly want this new select committee to be bipartisan and fair – and to be taken seriously by the American people – we call on you to reconsider this approach before bringing this measure to the House floor for a vote,” Pelosi and Hoyer said. “Another partisan review that serves only to politicize these attacks is disrespectful and unworthy of the American people.”
But House Republicans expressed confidence that Gowdy can conduct a probe, in Boehner’s words, “to investigate the attack, provide the necessary accountability, and ensure justice is finally served.”
“I can think of nobody better than Trey to spearhead this effort,” said House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, of Virginia. “Trey is trusted among his colleagues and is a man of great integrity. His background as a prosecutor will be an enormous value as he and his fellow committee members seek out the facts of what happened in Benghazi, Libya, and how the administration responded to that terror attack. After years of obstruction, it’s time the American people finally get all the answers and Trey will ensure that happens."
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, the panel that has most extensively looked into the Benghazi attacks, said Boehner “could not have chosen a member more committed to getting the full truth about the before, during and after of the Benghazi terrorist attacks than Congressman Trey Gowdy.”
“Trey has been an integral contributor to the Oversight Committee investigation and takes the knowledge we have gained, through subpoenas and individual testimony, to his new role leading the new select committee,” Issa said.
Harold W. “Trey” Gowdy III, 49, was born in Greenville, S.C., but grew up, and still resides, in Spartanburg in the northwest corner of the state. He’s a 1989 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was a member of the scholastic honor society.
Gowdy maintained a private law practice until 1994 when he entered the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina as a federal prosecutor, handling cases that ranged from narcotics trafficking to bank robbery to child pornography. In 1997, he and a colleague prosecuted the first federal murder case in the Upstate of South Carolina in over a quarter century, gaining the conviction of Tommy Pabellon and Bob Harry Fowler for killing a federal witness. Both were sentenced to life in prison.
During that tenure, he also received the United States Postal Inspector's Award for his successful prosecution of Mark J. Allen, one of "America's Most Wanted Criminals" for a variety of charges including carjacking, armed robbery and escape. Allen is serving a federal prison sentence in excess of 50 years.
In 2000 Gowdy waged a successful campaign for solicitor in South Carolina’s 7th District, defeating a 16-year incumbent in his first attempt at political office. During his tenure, Gowdy started a Violence Against Women Task Force and a Worthless Check Program, enhanced and expanded drug courts, and implemented a Drug Mother Protocol designed to assist expectant mothers break the cycle of addiction.
Nine years later Gowdy announced a primary challenge to Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), who had angered conservatives despite a 93 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union because of some late career votes, including his support for cap-and-trade legislation.
Inglis’ re-election effort drew five primary foes with Gowdy running well to the incumbent’s right. Gowdy finished first with 39 percent of the vote but was forced into a run-off with Inglis. He won the run-off with 70 percent of the vote and went on to defeat his Democratic opponent in the fall 63 percent to 29 percent. He breezed to a second term in 2012.
Gowdy is married to Terri Dillard Gowdy. The couple has two children and three dogs – Judge, Jury and Bailiff.
Despite serving in Congress, Gowdy considers himself more of a prosecutor than politician. He is reputed to have never lost a case.
In 2011, during an appearance before a conservative group at Furman University, Gowdy insisted that he is an “unabashed” supporter of the Tea Party movement but he rejected being called a Tea Party congressman.
“My response to all of that is I am enthusiastically supportive of what the tea party has done,” he said. “If you want to see where I am, look at my voting record.”