Harold Watson "Trey" Gowdy III /ˈɡaʊdi/ (born August 22, 1964) is an American attorney, politician and former prosecutor. He currently serves as the U.S. Representative for South Carolina's 4th congressional district. He is a member of the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party. His district includes much of the Upstate region of South Carolina, including Greenville and Spartanburg.
Before his election to Congress, Gowdy was the solicitor (district attorney) for the state's Seventh Judicial Circuit, comprising Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties. From 1994 to 2000, he was a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. In 2014, Gowdy became chairman of a House Select Committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attack. He was nicknamed The Hillary Slayer by Rolling Stone for his hardline stance against Hillary Clinton's actions during the Benghazi case, and his critiques of Hillary Clinton's email server during the 2016 campaign. Gowdy pressed for the prosecution of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.
Early life, education
Trey Gowdy was born on August 22, 1964, in Greenville, South Carolina. He is the son of Novalene (née Evans) and Harold Watson "Hal" Gowdy, Jr, MD. He grew up in Spartanburg, where as a young man, he delivered newspapers for the local daily, and worked at the community market. Gowdy graduated from Spartanburg High School in 1982, earned a B.A. in history from Baylor University in 1986, and earned a J.D. degree from the University of South Carolina in 1989.
Gowdy married Terri (née Dillard) Gowdy, a former Miss Spartanburg and 2nd runner up for Miss South Carolina. The couple have two children, Watson and Abigail. Terri Dillard Gowdy is a teacher's aide in the Spartanburg School District.
Gowdy served as clerk for John P. Gardner on the South Carolina Court of Appeals as well as for United States District Court Judge George Ross Anderson, Jr.. He then went into private practice before being selected as a U.S. federal prosecutor in April 1994. Gowdy would later be awarded the Postal Inspector’s Award for the successful prosecution of J. Mark Allen, one of “America’s Most Wanted” suspects.
In February 2000, he left the United States Attorney’s Office to run for 7th Circuit Solicitor. He defeated incumbent Solicitor Holman Gossett in the Republican primary. He ran unopposed in the general election. Gowdy was reelected in 2004 and 2008, both times unopposed. During his tenure, he appeared in two episodes of "Forensic Files," as well as Dateline NBC and SCETV. He prosecuted the full set of criminal cases, including seven death penalty cases.
When the state faced a budget crunch that forced many employees to go on unpaid furloughs, Gowdy funneled part of his campaign account into the solicitor's budget so his staff could keep working.
In the summer of 2009, Gowdy announced that he would challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman Bob Inglis in the Republican primary for South Carolina's 4th congressional district.
Inglis, who got a 93% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, angered the conservative wing of the Republican Party by taking stances that were perceived to be more moderate than those he had taken when he first represented the district from 1993 to 1999; besides opposing elements in his own party on issues including climate change, he attracted attention as a member of the Judiciary Committee for providing the deciding vote that prevented a measure designed to protect the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance from coming to the House floor. He drew five Republican challengers, including Gowdy. Like most of the challengers, Gowdy ran well to Inglis' right. In the June 2010 primary, Gowdy ranked first with 39% of the vote, short of the 50% majority threshold to win outright and avoid a run-off. Inglis received 27% of the vote. Jim Lee got 14%, State Senator David L. Thomas got 13%, and former Historian of the United States House of Representatives Christina Jeffrey was last with 7% of the vote.
In the run-off election, Gowdy defeated Inglis 70%–30%. The 4th district was so heavily considered Republican, that it was widely presumed Gowdy was assured a seat in that class of Congress. Gowdy defeated Democratic nominee Paul Corden 63%–29%.
Gowdy ran for reelection to a second term against Democrat Deb Morrow. During redistricting following the 2010 census, one proposed map saw large portions out of Gowdy's home county of Spartanburg County out of the district, while leaving all of Greenville County within the district. Gowdy was initially quoted as being "disappointed" with the version, even though the redrawn 4th would have been as solidly Republican as its predecesor. The final map moved a portion of Greenville County to the 3rd district while leaving all of Spartanburg County in the 4th district. Gowdy was quoted as being "pleased" with this version, since Greenville and Spartanburg counties remained linked. Roll Call rated his district as Safe Republican in 2012. Gowdy easily secured a second term, defeating Morrow 65%–34%.
Gowdy ran for reelection again in 2014. His only opponent was Libertarian Curtis E. McLaughlin. He was reelected with 85.2% of the popular vote.
In the November 2016 election, Gowdy faced Democrat Chris Fedalei, a 26-year-old attorney. Trey Gowdy defeated Chris Fedalei with 67.23% of the vote to retain his seat.
U.S. House of Representatives
In August 2011 during the 2011 United States debt ceiling crisis, Gowdy opposed Speaker John Boehner’s debt limit bill, and he voted against the final debt ceiling agreement. He also opposed the 2011 defense authorization bill, citing concerns about the prospect of Americans being detained without trial on national security grounds. In December 2010, he told Congressional Quarterly that he would support a measure only if its sponsor could demonstrate that the Constitution gave the government the power to act in a particular realm.
Gowdy worked on the Committee on Judiciary, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Gowdy frequently speaks on the floor of the House on issues ranging from Operation Fast and Furious to his support for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
In 2012, he received the Defender of Economic Freedom award from the fiscally conservative 501(c)4 organization Club for Growth. The award is given to the members of Congress who have the year's highest ranking, according to the Club for Growth's metrics. Gowdy scored 97 out of 100, and was one of 34 congressmen given the award.
An ardent social conservative, Gowdy considers himself "pro-life plus." He not only believes "in the sanctity of life," but argues that "the strategy should be broader than waiting for the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade."
Trey Gowdy signed the Contract from America, which aims to defund, repeal, and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, limit United States Environmental Protection Agency regulations, enact a reform of the federal tax code, pass a balanced budget amendment, and end earmarks.
On March 4, 2014, Gowdy introduced the ENFORCE the Law Act of 2014 (H.R. 4138; 113th Congress) into the House. The bill would give the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate both the standing to sue the President of the United States in a federal district court to clarify a federal law (that is, seek a declaratory judgment) in the event that the executive branch is not enforcing the law. House Republicans argued that the bill was necessary because the Obama Administration refused to enforce the laws. H.R. 4138 has passed the House but has yet to become law.
In total, Gowdy has sponsored 11 bills, including:
112th Congress (2011–2012)
- H.R. 1894, a bill to permit a guilty plea made by the accused prior to the announcement of the sentence in a capital offense trial before a military commission to form the basis of an agreement to reduce the maximum approved sentence, introduced May 13, 2011
- H.R. 2076, a bill to allow the Attorney General to assist with investigation incidents in which three or more people are killed or are targeted to be killed, introduced June 1, 2011, signed into law January 14, 2013
- H.R. 6620, a bill to authorize the United States Secret Service to protect former presidents, their spouses, and their children under the age of 16, introduced November 30, 2012, signed into law January 10, 2013
113th Congress (2013–2014)
- H.R. 652, a bill to prohibit non-humanitarian relief foreign aid from being sent to countries that engage in state-sanctioned persecution of religious minorities, prevent equal access to education on the basis of gender, race, or ethnicity, or do not accept the return of nationals who have been extradited, introduced February 13, 2013
- H.R. 5401, a bill to prohibit Libyan nationals from engaging in aviation maintenance, flight operations, or nuclear-related studies or training inside the United States, introduced September 8, 2014
- Committee on Ethics
- Committee on the Judiciary
- Subcommittee on Constitution and Civil Justice
- Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations (Chairman)
- Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
- Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules
- Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs
- Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
In July 2015, Republican nominee Donald Trump named Gowdy as a possible nominee for Attorney General in a Trump cabinet. In late December 2015, Gowdy endorsed Senator Marco Rubio for president, praising him as a rarity among elected officials for having kept his campaign promises. Gowdy's endorsement strained his relations with Donald Trump's campaign; Trump said that Gowdy had "failed miserably on Benghazi". Rubio withdrew from the race in March, after losing his home state of Florida to Trump. Two months later, on May 20, Gowdy endorsed Trump for president, admitting that while he was a "Rubio guy", he would support the presumptive Republican nominee.
|Republican||Bob Inglis (incumbent)||23,877||27.46|
|Republican||David L. Thomas||11,073||12.74|
|Republican||Christina Fawcett Jeffrey||6,041||6.95|
|Republican||Bob Inglis (incumbent)||21,898||29.82|
|Republican||Trey Gowdy (Incumbent)||173,201||64.90|
|Republican||Trey Gowdy (Incumbent)||126,452||84.84|
|Libertarian||Curtis E McLaughlin Jr||21,969||14.74|
|Republican||Trey Gowdy (Incumbent)||198,648||67.19|