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Gowdy Leaving Congress, Returning to Justice Career

trey gowdy at the house judiciary committee russia hearing

WASHINGTON -- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has added himself to the growing list of Republican members of Congress -- including House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), who announced Monday -- who don't want to run for another term in November.

In fact, Gowdy declared today that he wants to leave politics behind altogether and return to his previous legal career.

"Words cannot adequately express my gratitude to the people of South Carolina for the privilege of representing them in the House of Representatives... I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve in the People's House and — prior to Congress — to advocate on behalf of justice in our court systems," Gowdy said in a statement.

"I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office; instead I will be returning to the justice system," he added. "Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system. As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding."

Gowdy said he wanted to make the announcement before filing opens in six weeks because "it is important to give the women and men in South Carolina who might be interested in serving ample time to reflect on the decision."

The congressman thanked his family and colleagues, along with "those across South Carolina and our country who, over the past 7 years, have expressed words of encouragement, accountability and even criticism: thank you. All are needed for those in public service."

"The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us there is a time and a season for all things. There is a time to start and a time to end," he added. "There is a time to come and a time to go. This is the right time, for me, to leave politics and return to the justice system."

Gowdy, a former assistant U.S. Attorney and 7th Circuit Solicitor, first came to Congress by defeating incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) in the Tea Party wave of 2010. He has won re-election by strong margins since, and led the House special investigation of the 2012 Benghazi attack.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Jan. 10, Gowdy stepped down from the House Ethics Committee, saying that four committee assignments was too much of a workload. "When I became Chairperson of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform I knew I would not be able to keep all other committee assignments to include Judiciary, Intelligence and Ethics," he wrote.

Gowdy told CNN last week that he has "tremendous respect for the Department of Justice and the FBI" and "there is no member of Congress that holds that department in higher esteem than I do."