Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2010, 3rd term.

Born: August 22, 1964, Greenville

Home: Spartanburg

Education: Baylor U., B.A. 1986; U. of SC, J.D. 1989.

Professional Career: Prosecutor, U.S. Atty. Office, SC, 1994-2000.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Baptist

Family: Married (Terri Dillard Gowdy) , 2 children

Republican Trey Gowdy, elected in 2010, likes to call himself “a prosecutor, not a politician,” and he has doggedly taken part in his party’s investigations of the Obama administration—but he has a politician’s gregarious personality. He was named in May 2014 to head a select committee investigating the Obama administration's handling of the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, an issue that has been a cause celebre for conservatives.

Gowdy grew up in Spartanburg, where he still lives with his wife, Terri, and their two children. His father grew up poor but worked to become the first in his family to finish college and eventually to put himself through medical school and became a pediatrician. The family was well-off financially, but Trey Gowdy was encouraged to get jobs mowing lawns and bagging groceries. He got his first car from his father, who made him pay for it with his earnings. His academic performance in his younger years was “extraordinarily average,” Gowdy recalled in an interview with National Journal. But as a teenager, he was inspired by Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign for president and by a stint as a Senate page, sponsored by then-Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C. Gowdy buckled down and earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina.

In 1994, Gowdy became a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Greenville, where he worked on cases ranging from drug trafficking to murder. In 2000, he successfully ran for the county solicitor’s post and was reelected twice. In that role, he sought the death penalty in seven cases and won them all. Much of the job was managerial, but Gowdy says he tried about half of the cases that came through his office himself, focusing his efforts on preventing violence against women and drunken driving. Gowdy, who named his dogs Judge, Jury, and Bailiff, says that being a prosecutor was “the best job I will ever have in my life.”

He said he decided to challenge six-term GOP Rep. Bob Inglis in the 2010 Republican primary after the incumbent had tacked to the left on a number of issues. Gowdy portrayed his opponent as a Washington insider whose pragmatic positions on some issues were out of step with the district’s conservative voters. He criticized Inglis for earmarking funds in appropriations bills, for his opposition to President George W. Bush’s 2007 troop surge in Iraq, and for his stand against oil exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Inglis declared that he was running against the “sins of Congress,” rather than an individual.

Gowdy finished ahead of Inglis in the initial balloting, and then soundly defeated him in a runoff, 71% to 29%. Inglis’ defeat in the early summer primary was one of the first concrete signs that the restless mood of voters in 2010 would spell trouble for incumbents that fall. In the general election, Gowdy breezed past Democrat Paul Corden, a retired businessman and Vietnam veteran, 63% to 29%. He did just as well two years later, winning reelection 65% to 34%.

In the House, Gowdy is a committed conservative; he was the chamber's 25th most conservative member in 2013, according to National Journal rankings. He always willing to offer opinions to reporters and lavishly compliment his colleagues, and despairs of today’s lack of civility in Congress. “We, Republicans and Democrats, are as kind and polite to each other as you could possibly be,” he told a local audience in 2012. “That changes the moment the cameras come on.” He took over the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s panel on the District of Columbia and surprised city officials by not taking as heavy-handed an approach to monitoring the city as his GOP predecessors.

At the same time, Gowdy can be as ferocious as any of his Class of 2010 colleagues in taking on the Obama administration. He called for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign or be impeached for his failure to rein in the “Operation Fast and Furious” gun-tracking program. He dismissed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s assertion that the panel’s Fast and Furious investigation was linked to voter suppression as “mind-numbingly stupid.” At a 2011 hearing on Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s alleged mistreatment of colleagues, he upbraided Jaczko: “When you have four eyewitnesses that testify to someone under oath, you know what they call a defendant after that? An inmate.”

Gowdy was named the House’s “surprise standout” in Washingtonian magazine’s 2012 survey of congressional aides and won a plum assignment in 2013 as chairman of the Judiciary Committee panel on immigration. He told GreenvilleOnline.com that he wanted to develop an immigration reform bill that reflects “the humanity that I think defines us as a people and the respect for the rule of law that defines us as a republic.” But even though the Senate passed a bipartisan bill in 2013, House Republicans could not agree among themselves about what should be included in the measure, and the effort eventually fell apart.

Gowdy turned his attention to other issues. He was one of the most outspoken critics of the Affordable Care Act, blasting the president for changing language on whether people would be able to keep their insurance under thew law. “The president already has a Nobel Prize for peace; I think he’s shooting for one in fiction,” he told Fox News in November 2013. He later sponsored a bill that would authorize Congress to sue the president for failing to "faithfully execute" federal laws, including those with which the chief executive disagrees. It passed the House on a largely party-line vote in March 2014 but languished in the Democratic-controlled Senate. "To me, it’s not a political issue," Gowdy said. "Do you think the chief executive should have to actually enforce the law? I would think every member of the House and Senate would support that.”

But it was the Benghazi investigation that thrust Gowdy into the spotlight. After the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee spent months pursuing allegations that the administration bungled the response to the attack and lied to Congress about it, House Republican leaders decided to create a select committee headed by Gowdy. "Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement announcing the decision. Gowdy later cautioned Republicans against seeking to raise money off “the backs of four murdered Americans,” but the issue proved too enticing to party officials seeking to galvanize the base. After House Democrats initially denounced the select committee as a partisan stunt, they agreed to participate, and the panel began holding closed-door hearings in summer 2014.

At the first open hearing in October, National Review's Andrew C. McCarthy lamented that Gowdy had not be sufficiently prosecutorial in questioning Gregory Starr, the assistant secretary of State for diplomatic security, about the Obama administration's exact policy objectives in Libya when Starr said he could not answer that question. "Gowdy did not grill Starr," McCarthy wrote. "And Gowdy — the chairman who has access to the intelligence the committee has been gathering for five months, the accomplished prosecutor who is not fool enough to ask a key question to which he did not know the answer — did not fill in the information gap. He abruptly ended the hearing, content to leave the policy shrouded in mystery."

As 2015 began, the Benghazi panel remained riven by partisan strife. Even though the House Intellligence Committee released a report that concluded there was no wrongdoing by Obama administration officials, Gowdy was reappointed to head the select committee. The panel's ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, accused Gowdy of holding secret meetings with witnesses and then withholding or downplaying information from those interviews that undermined the GOP's investigation. Cummings and other Democrats objected to Gowdy's plan to subpoena 22 witnesses without a debate or vote. But Gowdy responded that he had tried to work out a deal with Democrats over subpoenas, only to be rebuffed.

Gowdy was approached about potentially challenging South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in a 2014 primary, but demurred. He told conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, “I do not want to stay in Washington. I am where I want to be right now, which is South Carolina, dreading driving to the airport [to fly to D.C.] tomorrow." Graham returned the favor in February 2015 by saying that if he were president, he'd nominated Gowdy to serve on the Supreme Court.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-6030

(202) 226-1177

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1404
Washington, DC 20515-4004

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-6030

(202) 226-1177

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1404
Washington, DC 20515-4004

DISTRICT OFFICE

(864) 241-0175

(864) 241-0982

104 South Main Street Suite 801
Greenville, SC 29601-2742

DISTRICT OFFICE

(864) 241-0175

(864) 241-0982

104 South Main Street Suite 801
Greenville, SC 29601-2742

DISTRICT OFFICE

(864) 583-3264

101 West St. John Street Suite 203
Spartanburg, SC 29306-5167

DISTRICT OFFICE

(864) 583-3264

101 West St. John Street
Spartanburg, SC 29306-5167

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 3324
Spartanburg, SC 29304

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 3324
Spartanburg, SC 29304

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Acquisitions

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Agriculture

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Appropriations

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Arts

Nicholas Spencer
Legislative Assistant

Banking

Robert DiBenedetto
Legislative Assistant

Budget

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Commerce

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Robert DiBenedetto
Legislative Assistant

Education

Nicholas Spencer
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Mariel Calhoun
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Mariel Calhoun
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Robert DiBenedetto
Legislative Assistant

Health

Nicholas Spencer
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Judiciary

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Labor

Nicholas Spencer
Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Nicholas Spencer
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Robert DiBenedetto
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Nicholas Spencer
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Technology

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Telecommunications

Mariel Calhoun
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Robert DiBenedetto
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Anna Bartlett
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Veterans

Nicholas Spencer
Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Nicholas Spencer
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Trey Gowdy
Votes: 173,201
Percent: 64.98%
Deb Morrow
Votes: 89,964
Percent: 33.75%
2012 PRIMARY
Trey Gowdy
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Trey Gowdy
Votes: 137,586
Percent: 63.45%
Paul Corden
Votes: 62,438
Percent: 28.79%
Dave Edwards
Votes: 11,059
Percent: 5.1%
2010 RUNOFF
Trey Gowdy
Votes: 54,412
Percent: 70.66%
Bob Inglis
Votes: 22,590
Percent: 29.34%
2010 PRIMARY
Trey Gowdy
Votes: 34,103
Percent: 39.22%
Bob Inglis
Votes: 23,877
Percent: 27.46%
Jim Lee
Votes: 11,854
Percent: 13.63%
David Thomas
Votes: 11,073
Percent: 12.74%
Christina Jeffrey
Votes: 6,041
Percent: 6.95%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (63%)

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