Demonstrating the tenacity to do what is right; Trey Gowdy has proven he is no pushover prosecutor. Chairing the House subcommittee on border security, Gowdy recently described White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer as a "demagogic self-serving political hack who can't even be elected to a parent advisory committee, much less Congress."
A native son of South Carolina, Harold Watson “Trey” Gowdy III was born in Greenville, South Carolina on August 22, 1964. The son of Dr. Harold Watson “Hal” Gowdy, Jr. and Novalene Evans, he grew up in Spartanburg, which he still calls home. A member of Spartanburg High School’s class of 1982, Trey entered Baylor University in Waco, Texas following graduation. There he pledged Kappa Omega Tau Fraternity and graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in history. Returning home, he enrolled in law school at the University of South Carolina in 1989 where he became a member of the school’s scholastic honor society, Order of the Wig and Robe.
Trey began his law career by clerking for John P. Gardner while Gardner served on the South Carolina Court of Appeals; in addition to clerking for United States District Court Judge Ross Anderson. After joining the South Carolina Bar, Gowdy spent some time in private practice, then served for six years as a federal prosecutor. During that time, he was involved in a full range of cases involving numerous federal crimes; among them bank robberies, child pornography and narcotics trafficking rings. One of the cases resulted in Gowdy receiving the Postal Inspector’s Award when he won the case against J. Mark Allen, listed among “America’s Most Wanted” suspects. In addition to that, his rating as a federal prosecutor was ranked at the highest performance an individual can receive – two years in a row. Seven of the cases in which Gowdy participated involved the death penalty.
Gowdy’s political career began in February 2000. Leaving the United States Attorney’s Office, Gowdy ran for 7th Circuit Solicitor. During the Republican primary, he defeated the incumbent, Holman Gossett. Gowdy was unopposed in the November election and would remain unopposed during in 2004 and 2008 reelections. While serving as solicitor, Gowdy made two appearances on Forensic Files, in addition to being seen on SCETV and Dateline NBC. During his campaign, South Carolina faced a budget crisis. This forced a number of employees onto furloughs with no pay. In an effort to keep his staff working, Gowdy funneled a portion of his campaign account into the solicitor’s budget.
In the summer of 2009, Gowdy set his sites on Washington, D.C. Throwing his hat into the ring, he faced off against Bob Inglis during the Republican primary. Inglis was then the incumbent from South Carolina’s 4th congressional district. In the past, Inglis enjoyed a 93% rating from the American Conservative Union; however, he had recently begun to ruffle feathers by taking more of a moderate stance on a number of issues. One example was his support of cap and trade and his statement believing global warming to be man-made.
Inglis faced five contenders, Gowdy being one of them; all of which ran well to the right of Inglis. Primary results awarded 39% of the votes to Gowdy and 27% to Inglis. Lacking the necessary 50% majority to avoid a runoff, the two candidates competed once more; this time with Gowdy receiving 70% of the vote and winning the nomination. Going up against Democrat Paul Corden in the general election, Gowdy’s tally was 63%.
Two years later when he sought re-election, Gowdy’s opponent was Democrat Deb Morrow. Prior to this election, gerrymandering had removed a portion of Spartanburg County from his district. The voters, however, felt he had earned the right to keep his job and he won 65% of the reelection tally.
Labeling himself a “constitutional conservative,” Gowdy spoke out against House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) regarding the debt ceiling crisis and cast his vote in opposition of the debt ceiling agreement. He also opposed the defense authorization bill in 2011 which would allow for the detaining of American citizens without a trial on the grounds of national security. Gowdy told Congressional Quarterly in December 2010 that if a measure’s sponsor could demonstrate the fact the Constitution empowers the government to conduct itself in a particular realm, it will receive his support. Otherwise, he will stand in opposition to it.
Gowdy has been an active participant on a number of committees; among them the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Judiciary. He is frequently on the House floor to speak on a variety of issues which range from Fast and Furious to his support for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
In 2012, the fiscally conservative organization Club for Growth awarded Gowdy the Defender of Economic Freedom Award. The organization presents this honor to those congressional members who have received the highest ranking, according to the Club for Growth's metrics for that particular year. One of 45 representatives and senators to be presented the award, Gowdy received a score of 97 points out of a possible 100. The Club for Growth uses the following criteria when rating public officials:
• Lower marginal income tax rates
• Cutting and limiting government spending
• Death Tax repeal
• Expanding free trade
• Legal reform to end abusive lawsuits
• Replacing the current tax code
• School choice
• Regulatory reform and deregulation
• Reform entitlements to increase economic freedom and ensure that long-term federal spending is financially sustainable
• Social Security reform with personal retirement accounts
Gowdy not only describes himself as an ardent social conservative, he also uses the term “pro-life plus”. Not only does he profess a strong belief in the “sanctity of life”, he believes "the strategy should be broader than waiting for the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade."
In 2009, the “Contract from America” was the brainchild of Houston attorney Ryan Hecker. Prior to the tax day rallies scheduled by the Tea Party for April 15, 2009. Hecker announced the need to create a grassroots call for reform. Gowdy threw his support behind the contract, the aims of which are to "Defund, repeal and replace the recently passed government-run health care" (i.e., Obamacare).
Gowdy went before the House on March 4, 2014 to introduce the ENFORCE the Law Act of 2014 (H.R. 4138; 113th Congress). His bill seeks to empower both US Representatives and Senators with the authority to sue the US President in federal district court in an effort to clarify a federal law, in the event the executive branch does not enforce a law Congress has passed. After presentation, House Republicans argued the bill’s necessity stems from the fact President Obama and his administration choose the laws to be enforced, while ignoring others he has signed.
The citizens of South Carolina have recognized Gowdy for his commitment to victims’ rights and enforcement regarding drunken driving. He has also received national acclaim for excellence in death penalty prosecutions.
Trey is married to Terri Dillard Gowdy. They are parents of two children. He is also “father” to three dogs: Judge, Jury and Bailiff.
* * * * *
“It is important elected officials remember to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and create an environment that is conducive to job growth. As a recipient of the Defender of Economic Freedom Award, I am humbled to be in such great company. We must get our fiscal house in order if we are to reestablish America’s economic prowess.”
SC Congressman Trey Gowdy