|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Louisiana's 3rd district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Charles Boustany|
Glen Clay Higgins
August 24, 1961
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
(m. 1983; div. 1991)
(m. 1991; div. 1999)
(m. 2003; div. 2007)
|Education||Louisiana State University|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1979–1985|
|Unit||Louisiana National Guard|
|Department||Opelousas City Police Department|
Port Barre Police Department
St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office
Lafayette City Marshal
|Service years||2005–2007 (Opelousas)|
2007–2010 (Port Barre)
2011–2016 (Sheriff's Office)
2016–present (City Marshal)
Glen Clay Higgins (born August 24, 1961) is an American politician and reserve law enforcement officer from the state of Louisiana. A Republican, Higgins is the U.S. representative for Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. The district, which contains much of the territory once represented by former Governor Edwin Edwards and former Senator John Breaux, is in the southwestern corner of the state and includes Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Iberia and Opelousas. Higgins won the runoff election on December 10, 2016, defeating fellow Republican Scott Angelle.
Early life and education
Clay Higgins is the seventh of eight children. He was born in New Orleans, and his family moved to Covington, Louisiana, when he was six years old. The family raised and trained horses. After graduation from Covington High School, Higgins attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Local law enforcement
In 2004, Higgins became a patrol officer for the Opelousas City Police Department. By 2007, Police Chief Perry Gallow was prepared to take major disciplinary action against Higgins. In a letter to the City Council, he wrote, "Clay Higgins used unnecessary force on a subject during the execution of a warrant and later gave false statements during an internal investigation...although he later recanted his story and admitted to striking a suspect in handcuffs and later releasing him". Higgins resigned before disciplinary action could be imposed.
In September 2016, during his congressional campaign, Higgins claimed to have resigned from the police force for other reasons, calling Gallow a "a peacock, a colorful, flightless bird". Gallow, by then retired as police chief, publicly disputed Higgins's version of events.
Higgins worked for the Port Barre Police Department through 2010. In 2011, he joined the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office. After the office's public information officer was reassigned in October 2014, Higgins was appointed to the position and promoted to captain. As public information officer, Higgins made videos for the parish Crime Stoppers program. He first used standard scripts, but began to improvise in his own style, appealing to suspects to surrender and sometimes threatening them by name. His videos went viral, and in 2015 he was described by national media as the "Cajun John Wayne" for his intimidating persona. Sheriff Bobby Guidroz urged restraint, advising Higgins to refrain from personal comments about suspects and to keep a professional tone in his videos.
Higgins also made a video for the state police, with a script that prompted protests from suspects' families and the ACLU. He resigned from the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office in February 2016. Guidroz had warned him against using disrespectful and demeaning language about suspects, ordering him to "Tone down his unprofessional comments on our weekly Crime Stoppers messages". He issued a statement saying that Higgins's comments underlined "a growing undertone of insubordination and lack of discipline on Higgins’ part". Guidroz said that Higgins had gone against department policy by misusing his badge and uniform for personal profit and gain, citing Higgins's wearing a uniform in an ad for a security firm. He also reprimanded Higgins for using his badge and uniform on his personal website to support sales of T-shirts and shot glasses for his Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). Higgins had also used the department's physical address in registering his corporation with the state. Both actions were against department policy.
Salon reported that during this period, Higgins "negotiated paid speaking appearances with other police departments. In one email, Higgins discussed his request for a speaker's fee that included shopping money for his wife and part of the fuel for a friend's private plane." He asked for cash payments. Higgins also conducted his private business via email on "his government email-account during work hours without the permission or knowledge of his supervisors. Higgins also appears to have attempted to conceal his earnings from the IRS in order to avoid wage garnishment for unpaid taxes. Whether those actions constitute tax fraud is unclear."
Shortly after resigning from St. Landry Parish, in March 2016, Higgins was accepted and sworn in as a Reserve Deputy Marshal in the city of Lafayette, Louisiana. Reserve forces in city and Parish Sheriff's offices in Louisiana receive regular training and are commissioned as law enforcement officers. They are part-time and made up of persons from many walks of life.
U.S. House of Representatives
After Higgins's resignation from the St. Landry Sheriff's Office, Chris Comeaux, a Republican campaign staffer, recruited him to run for office. In May 2016, Higgins declared his candidacy in the 2016 election in the 3rd district. He crossed district lines to run for this seat, as his home in Port Barre is in the neighboring 5th district. Members of the House are not constitutionally required to live in the district they represent. A Super PAC headed by U.S. Senator David Vitter's former chief of staff supported Higgins's candidacy.
Higgins finished second in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on November 8, behind Republican Scott Angelle, in which nearly 68% of the parish voted. He faced Angelle in a runoff election on December 10 and won with 56.1% of the vote; turnout had declined to about 28% of voters.
Higgins was challenged by Democrats Rob Anderson, Mildred "Mimi" Methvin, Larry Rader, and Verone Thomas, Libertarian Aaron Andrus, and Republican Josh Guillory. President Trump endorsed Higgins. He defeated all six challengers in the jungle primary, winning reelection without a runoff.
Higgins was sworn into the House of Representatives on January 3, 2017.
In December 2017, Higgins voted with other Republicans in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. He touted the Act's benefits, but the Congressional Budget Office projected that GDP growth would decline to 2.4% in 2019 as business investment and government purchases slowed.
- Committee on Homeland Security
- Committee on Oversight and Reform
Higgins supports gun rights and opposes the regulation of firearms. In 2017, he said, "The modern hysteria over guns is another example of our weakened society. Guns weren't really regulated at all prior to the '60s in America. Throughout our history, prior to just 50 years ago, a child could purchase a gun from any seller, if Daddy sent him with the money."
In 2018, Higgins commented on his Facebook page about a New York Times op-ed by retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens that called for the repeal of the Second Amendment. Higgins said, "Judge John Paul Stevens, Your Honor, whatever... put together any badass socialists you can muster. As their attorney, make sure they have their affairs in order. Molon Labe."
Higgins opposes the carrying of weapons at demonstrations. In 2020 he posted on Facebook that he would "drop 10 of you where you stand", referring to potential armed demonstrators.
In July 2018, House Democrats called for a floor vote on abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). House Republicans refused and called for the House to vote on a resolution by Higgins and Kevin McCarthy to support ICE.
Higgins supported Trump's 2017 executive order to temporarily curtail travel from certain countries, saying, "The president's executive order for a short-term restriction on visa entries from seven countries that are known to foster terrorists, combined with a systematic review of our immigration and vetting procedure, is reasonable."
Higgins has promoted himself and spoken at rallies by anti-government militia groups. When informed that a Black militia group protesting police brutality might show up at a protest, however, he suggested on Facebook in September 2020 that he would shoot them ("drop any 10 of you where you stand"). He included a picture of Black militia members at a protest. Facebook removed the post per its policy to remove content that "incites or facilitates serious violence".
On February 24, 2022, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Higgins tweeted, "You millennial leftists who never lived one day under nuclear threat can now reflect upon your woke sky. You made quite a non-binary fuss to save the world from intercontinental ballistic tweets", the meaning of which became a subject of minor debate.
Texas v. Pennsylvania
In December 2020, Higgins was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives to sign an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of an election held by another state.
In May 2020 CNN interview, Higgins described face masks as a "bacteria trap" and said they did not help to slow the spread of COVID-19, noting that he did not believe they were effective as smells are able to pass through them.
In May 2021, Higgins wrote on Facebook, "I do not support mandatory vaccines, mask mandates or any form of required vaccine passport." In July 2021, he introduced a bill that would make it illegal for employers to mandate vaccination for their employees.
In the same month, Higgins confirmed that he and his wife had both contracted COVID-19 in January 2020, and that they had since contracted it a second time, along with their son. He has not publicly revealed his vaccination status.
Social media controversies
In early July 2017, Higgins posted a five-minute video on YouTube from Auschwitz concentration camp, including a section from within one of the gas chambers. He said, "This is why homeland security must be squared away, why our military must be invincible". This video was widely condemned as inappropriate, including by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, whose spokesman wrote in a Twitter post that "the building should not be used as a stage". Higgins later removed the video and issued an apology.
Several of Higgins's Facebook posts have been removed for contravening the company's policy against inciting violence. On September 1, 2020, Higgins posted a photograph of protesters at a Black Lives Matter protest in Louisiana, suggesting that armed demonstrators should be met with force to "eliminate the threat". After Facebook deleted the post, Higgins wrote: "America is being manipulated into a new era of government control. Your liberty is threatened from within. […] Welcome to the front lines, Ladies and Gentlemen. I suggest you get your mind right. I’ll advise when it’s time gear up, mount up, and roll out." This post was deleted for contravening the same policy.
Higgins has been married four times. Higgins married Eloisa Rovati. They had a daughter together, who died a few months after she was born. Higgins and Rovati divorced. She later died in an automobile crash. Higgins then married Rosemary "Stormy" Rothkamm-Hambrice. He adopted her child from a previous marriage, and they had two more children together. They divorced in 1999. Higgins's third wife was Kara Seymour. They also divorced, and Higgins lives in Port Barre, Louisiana, with his fourth wife, Becca.
Rothkamm-Hambrice, then living in Mississippi, filed suit against him the day after the 2016 election for unpaid child support of more than $140,000, including interest on overdue payments. Higgins said that he sought reduced payments in 2005 after changing careers to law enforcement, but the issue was never settled. The Daily Advertiser reported: "Calls about the case made by this newspaper in September, first to the Texas Attorney General's Office, then to Louisiana courts, brought similar responses from both places: Clay Higgins was not in trouble with the courts in either state over the child support payments."
In August 2021, Higgins challenged a critic from Alaska who had called him a "traitor" for voting against certifying the 2020 election results to a physical fight in a ring, saying that he would be in Alaska in 2022; the challenge was accepted.
- Turk, Leslie (May 24, 2019). "Shaq, Clay Higgins among nearly 50 Lafayette reserve deputies decommissioned by city marshal". The Advocate. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
- "A Republican Member of Congress Threatened to Kill Armed Demonstrators in a Facebook Post". BuzzFeed News.
- Cook, Lanie Lee (May 13, 2015). "St. Landry deputy finds new meaning, viral fame in his role of no-nonsense sheriff's spokesman". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Georges Media. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Stickney, Ken (September 16, 2016). "Higgins: God led him to challenge Angelle". Jackson Sun. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Holley, Peter (May 6, 2015). "Meet the 'Cajun John Wayne,' the deputy whose meme-worthy videos terrify criminals". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- "Clay Higgins", House of Representatives
- "Clay Higgins resigned from OPD in 2007 on cusp of major disciplinary measures". The Independent. September 29, 2016. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- "Meet the man hailed as the "John Wayne" of Cajun country". CBS News. New York City: CBS Broadcasting. September 3, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
- Stickney, Ken (December 16, 2016). "Higgins carves unlikely path to Capitol". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
- "UPDATE: Sheriff issues expanded statement; Clay Higgins leaves the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office". KATC. February 29, 2016. Archived from the original on December 24, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
- Dickerson, Seth (May 18, 2016). "Clay Higgins announces run for congress". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Ng, Alfred (February 29, 2016). "La. officer quits because he can't make 'demeaning' comments". The New York Daily News. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- "UPDATE: Sheriff issues expanded statement; Clay Higgins leaves the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office". Archived from the original on December 24, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
- "Clay Higgins' Departure from the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Department" (PDF). St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office.
- Kopplin, Zack (October 2, 2016). "Uniform misconduct: Inside the rise and possible fall of "The Cajun John Wayne," GOP congressional candidate Clay Higgins". Salon.
- Dickerson, Seth (March 17, 2016). "Higgins sworn in as reserve Lafayette deputy marshal". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- "Who We Are: Reserve Deputy Program", East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, 2011. Quote: "Our Reserve Deputies are part time, non-salaried, fully-commissioned law enforcement officers. Reserve Deputies have the same responsibilities, the same duties, and receive the same level of training and, most importantly, they have the same authority as their regularly employed counterparts. Opportunities exist within the Reserve organization for individuals to serve in all areas of law enforcement."; accessed 30 April 2018
- Reed, Chris (March 30, 2016). "Captain Clay Higgins Awarded Prestigious Title From Kentucky Governor". HOT107.9 radio. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
- Ballard, Mark (December 10, 2016). "Clay Higgins – Cajun John Wayne – defeats Scott Angelle in 3rd District congressional race". The Advocate. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- "Clay Higgins announces run for Louisiana third congressional district seat". KATC. May 18, 2016. Archived from the original on May 20, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Ballard, Mark (December 3, 2016). "3rd Congressional District race pitting Scott Angelle against Clay Higgins seen as tossup". The Advocate. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- "Candidate Inquiry". July 20, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
- Hilburn, Greg (June 25, 2018). "Trump tweets: 'We want Clay!'". The News Star. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
- Stole, Bryn (July 20, 2018). "U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins avoids runoff, wins second term". The Advocate. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "Higgins facing criticism over social media post on rumors of armed militias in Lafayette". KATC. September 2, 2020.
- Barfield Berry, Deborah (January 4, 2017). "New Louisiana lawmakers sworn in". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
- Stickney, Ken (August 2017). "Does Clay Higgins still sleep in his office?". The Daily Advertiser. Lafayette, Louisiana: Gannett Company. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- Stickney, Ken (February 21, 2017). "Meet the Cajun congressman who sleeps on his office floor". The Shreveport Times. Shreveport, Louisiana: Gannett Company. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
- "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 256".
- Almukhtar, Sarah (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
- "GOP tax plan has Louisiana-specific benefits, senators say". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, Louisiana: Advance Publications. December 21, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
- "An Update to the Economic Outlook: 2018 to 2028" (PDF). U.S. Congressional Budget Office.
- "Committees and Caucuses". Congressman Clay Higgins. January 3, 2021. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
- "Membership". Republican Study Committee. December 6, 2017. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
- "Committees & Caucuses". Congressman Clay Higgins. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
- Bess, Gabby (January 6, 2017). "An Incredibly Upsetting List of All the New Republican Congress Members". Broadly. Brooklyn, New York: Vice Media LLC. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
- Stevens, John Paul (March 27, 2018). "John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment". The New York Times. New York City. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
- "Captain Clay Higgins". www.facebook.com. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
- Wong, Scott; Brufke, Julie Grace (July 16, 2018). "House GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE". The Hill. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Blake, Aaron (January 29, 2017). "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Denver Post. Denver, Colorado: Digital First Media. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
- Hernandez, Salvador; Mimms, Sarah. "A Republican Member of Congress Threatened to Kill Armed Demonstrators In A Facebook Post". Buzzfeed News. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
- Cillizza, Chris. "Deciphering a cryptic (and very weird) tweet by a House Republican on Russia". CNN.
- Chamlee, Virginia. "Lawmaker's Tweet Singling Out 'Millennial Leftists' Gets a Response from ... the Dictionary".
- Weisman, Jonathan (July 26, 2021). "Rep. Clay Higgins, a staunch opponent of mask mandates, announces he and his family have Covid-19". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
- Umholtz, Katelyn (May 28, 2020). "'Bacteria traps' is how Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins describes coronavirus face masks on CNN". The Advocate. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
- "Clay Higgins introduces bill aimed at making vaccine mandates by employers illegal". The Advocate. July 30, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
- Stelloh, Tim; Caldwell, Leigh Ann; Talbot, Haley (July 25, 2021). "GOP congressman says he has Covid-19 for second time". Yahoo! News. Retrieved July 25, 2021.
- "Congressman apologies for video in gas chamber at Nazi concentration camp". The Guardian. Associated Press. July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- "US congressman condemned for Auschwitz gas chamber video". BBC. July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- "Auschwitz Memorial condemns congressman's gas chamber video". ABC News. July 5, 2017. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- Elliott, Debbie (July 5, 2017). "Congressman Retracts Auschwitz Video And Apologizes, After Criticism". NPR. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- Swanson, Ian (September 2, 2020). "Facebook removes GOP lawmaker's post for inciting violence". The Hill. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
- Stickney, Ken (November 16, 2016). "Will dusty child support case hobble Higgins?". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- Stickney, Ken (November 16, 2016). "Will dusty child support case hobble Higgins?". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- Ballard, Mark (December 8, 2016). "In newly released tape recordings, Higgins says winning election will help him pay $100K-plus in child support". The Advocate. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Ballard, Mark (November 11, 2016). "Clay Higgins, in runoff for 3rd District seat, faces child support lawsuit from former wife". The Advocate. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Fink, Jenni (August 20, 2021). "Clay Higgins tells man who called him 'traitor' over 2020 election to 'find ring for fight". Newsweek. Retrieved September 16, 2022.
- Congressman Clay Higgins official U.S. House website
- Campaign website
- Clay Higgins at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Appearances on C-SPAN