Trey Gowdy

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Trey Gowdy
Trey Gowdy, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Bob Inglis
Chairman of the House Benghazi Committee
Assumed office
May 8, 2014
Preceded by Position established
Personal details
Born Harold Watson Gowdy III
(1964-08-22) August 22, 1964 (age 50)
Greenville, South Carolina, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Terri Gowdy
Children Abigail and Watson
Alma mater Baylor University
University of South Carolina,
Religion Southern Baptist
Website House website

Harold Watson "Trey" Gowdy III (born August 22, 1964) is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for South Carolina's 4th congressional district since 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district includes much of the Upstate region, 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 with 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.

Early life, education, and family[edit]

Gowdy was born in Greenville, and grew up in Spartanburg. He considers Spartanburg his home. He is the son of Novalene (née Evans) and Dr. Harold Watson "Hal" Gowdy, Jr.[1][2] Trey graduated from Spartanburg High School in 1982. He earned a B.A. in history from Baylor University in 1986. He was a member of Kappa Omega Tau, a service/social Fraternity while at Baylor University. He earned a J.D. degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1989. In law school, he was a member of the scholastic honor society "Wig and Robe."

Gowdy and his wife Terri have two children: Watson and Abigail. Watson is a senior at Clemson University studying Philosophy, Political Science, and Law, as well as a lifelong avid golf enthusiast. Abigail is a 12th grader. His cousin Joey Paul Gowdy[3] is an actor and producer in the entertainment business who is related to sportcaster Curt Gowdy[4] and actress Karen Morris Gowdy. Terri Dillard Gowdy is a teacher's aide in Spartanburg School District.

Legal career[edit]

Following law school, he clerked for John P. Gardner on the South Carolina Court of Appeals and United States District Court Judge Ross Anderson. He then went into private practice before becoming a federal prosecutor in April 1994. He was 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[5] in the Republican primary. He ran unopposed in the general election. He was reelected in 2004 and 2008, both times unopposed. During his tenure, he appeared on “Forensic Files” twice, as well as Dateline NBC and SCETV.[6] He prosecuted the full gamut of criminal cases including 7 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.[7]

Congressional elections[edit]


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'd taken when he'd first represented the district from 1993 to 1999.[8] For instance, he'd angered conservatives in his district when he supported cap and trade as a result of his belief that global warming is man made.[9] He drew five Republican challengers, and Gowdy was one of them. Like most of the challengers, Gowdy ran well to Inglis' right.[8] 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.[10][11]

In the run-off election, Gowdy defeated Inglis 70%-30%.[12] The 4th is so heavily Republican that it was widely presumed Gowdy had assured himself of a seat in Congress.[13] Gowdy defeated Democratic nominee Paul Corden 63%-29%.[14]


Gowdy ran for reelection to a second term against Democrat Deb Morrow.[15] The original remap of the district cut part of Gowdy's home county, Spartanburg County, out of the district while leaving all of Greenville County in the district. Gowdy was initially "disappointed" with this version, even though it would have left the 4th as reliably Republican as its predecessor. However, the final map moved part of Greenville County to the 3rd and left all of Spartanburg County in the 4th. Gowdy was pleased with this version, since Greenville and Spartanburg counties remained together. Roll Call rated his district as Safe Republican in 2012.[16] Gowdy won re-election to a second term, defeating Morrow 65%-34%.[17]


Gowdy ran for reelection again in 2014. His only opponent was Libertarian Curtis E. McLaughlin.[18] He was reelected with 85.2% of the popular vote.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


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.[19] He also opposed the 2011 defense authorization bill, citing concerns about the prospect of Americans being detained without trial on national security grounds.[20] 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.[7]

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 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.[21]

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."[22]

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.[23][24]


On March 4, 2014, Gowdy introduced the ENFORCE the Law Act of 2014 (H.R. 4138; 113th Congress) into the House.[25] 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.[26][27] House Republicans argued that the bill was necessary because the Obama Administration refused to enforce the laws.[28] H.R. 4138 has passed the House but has yet to become law.

In total, Gowdy has sponsored 11 bills, including:[29]

112th Congress (2011-2012)[edit]

  • 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 attempted 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)[edit]

  • H.R. 652, a bill to prohibit non-humanitarian relief foreign aid from being sent to countries that engage in state-sanction 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 assignments[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

South Carolina's 4th congressional district election, 2010[30]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Trey Gowdy 137,586 63.45
Democratic Paul Corden 62,438 28.79
Constitution Dave Edwards 11,059 5.10
Libertarian Rick Mahler 3,010 1.39
Green Faye Walters 2,564 1.18
Write-ins 181 0.08
Total votes 216,838 100.00
Republican hold
South Carolina 4th congressional district election, 2012[31][32]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Trey Gowdy (Incumbent) 173,201 64.90
Democratic Deb Morrow 89,964 33.71
Green Jeff Sumerel 3,390 1.27
Write-In Candidates 329 0.12
Total votes 266,884 100.0


  1. ^ "Circuit Solicitor: Trey Gowdy Bio". Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Harold Watson "Trey" Gowdy III". Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Joey Paul Gowdy: Biography". Retrieved May 9, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Curt Gowdy: Biography". Retrieved May 9, 2014. 
  5. ^ Spencer, Janet S. (April 29, 2000). "Gowdy spins web campaign". Herald-Journal. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Meet Trey". Trey Gowdy. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Congressional Quarterly Guide to the New Congress, 2010
  8. ^ a b Kraushaar, Josh (April 7, 2009). "Inglis faces fight from the right". Retrieved April 14, 2009. 
  9. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (November 18, 2010). "Republican Rep. Bob Inglis Blasts GOP For Denying Global Warming". ThinkProgress. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  10. ^ "SC District 4 - R Primary Race". Our Campaigns. June 8, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  11. ^ McArdle, John. Inglis Forced Into Runoff. Congressional Quarterly. June 8, 2010.
  12. ^ "SC District 4 - R Runoff Race". Our Campaigns. June 22, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  13. ^ McArdle, John. Gowdy Crushes Inglis in S.C. Runoff, CQ Politics, June 22, 2010.
  14. ^ "SC District 4 Race". Our Campaigns. November 2, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ Miller, Joshua (August 2, 2011). "Race Ratings: GOP Strengthens Grip on South Carolina". Roll Call. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  17. ^ "2014 Election Results Senate: Live Map by State, Midterm Midterm Races Races". Politico. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  18. ^ Shain, Andrew (March 26, 2014). "ELECTION 2014 (updated): Who's filed for statewide, State House, Congressional offices". The State. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  19. ^ Sherman, Jake (May 13, 2012). "Right wants more from John Boehner". Politico. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  20. ^ Brady, Jessica (December 29, 2011). "Detainee Provisions Still Cause for Concern". Roll Call. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  21. ^ Drury, Shawn (March 1, 2012). "Rep. Trey Gowdy Awarded by Club for Growth". Mauldin Patch. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Issues". Gowdy For Congress. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Contract From America". Contract From America. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Project Vote Smart". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  25. ^ "H.R. 4138 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved March 12, 2014. 
  26. ^ "H.R. 4138 - CBO". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved March 12, 2014. 
  27. ^ Kiefer, Francine (March 12, 2014). "Can House Republicans make Obama enforce laws?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  28. ^ Associated Press (March 12, 2014). "House backs bill to sue president over laws". Washington Post. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Representative Gowdy's Legislation". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Election Results : 2012 General Election : South Carolina State Election Commission". Retrieved 2014-10-20. 
  31. ^ "Election Statistics - US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". Karen Haas, Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved October 21, 2014. 
  32. ^ The votes for the Democratic candidate includes votes cast for the candidate who also ran under the Working Families Party ticket

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bob Inglis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 4th congressional district

New office Chairman of the House Benghazi Committee
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Paul Gosar
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Morgan Griffith