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South Carolina U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy bowing out of Congress

Gowdy, chair of the House Oversight Committee, won’t seek re-election in 2018

WASHINGTON (CNN) — U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who drew national attention for leading a congressional investigation into the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya, has announced he is retiring from Congress after four terms.

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina

In a January 31 statement announcing his departure, Gowdy, a former federal and state prosecutor, said he planned to return to work in the criminal justice system, although he gave no specifics.

“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” the Republican lawmaker said in his statement. “As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”

“The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us there is a time and a season for all things. There is a time to start and a time to end. There is a time to come and a time to go. This is the right time, for me, to leave politics and return to the justice system.”

Gowdy, who was named chairman of the House Oversight Committee last summer, becomes the eighth Republican committee chair overall, and the sixth Southern chair, to forgo a re-election bid this year.

His election will open up a seat in South Carolina’s 4th District, in metro Greenville-Spartanburg. The district is solidly Republican, so Gowdy’s successor is likely to be picked in the June primary. Filing for office begins March 30.

Gowdy, 53, was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010. He quickly rose to prominence after former House Speaker John Boehner appointed him to head a special investigative committee that looked into a terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.

The most lasting impact from that investigation was the disclosure that than-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had used a private email server during her tenure at the State Department, an issue which dogged her throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

Gowdy joins a growing list of Southern House committee chairs who are leaving Congress, which includes Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chair of the Financial Services Committee; Diane Black of Tennessee, chair of the House Budget Committee, who is running for governor; Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chair of the House Judiciary Committee; Joe Barton of Texas, chair of the House Energy Commitee; and Gregg Harper of Mississippi, chair of the House Administration Committee.

So far, 15 Southern House Republicans have announced they won’t seek re-election in 2018, including six from Texas and two each from Tennessee and Florida. Only two Southern Democrats aren’t running, both in Texas.

South Carolina U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy picked to head powerful oversight panel

Gowdy will head House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

WASHINGTON (CFP) — U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, who gained national prominence for his dogged investigation of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, has been selected to be the new chair of the House committee charged with investigating the executive branch.

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina

Gowdy was selected June 8 by the Republican Steering Committee to chair the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, replacing U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who is resigning from Congress.

“Oversight is constitutionally authorized and important to ensure branch integrity and equilibrium,” Gowdy said in a statement after his selection. “I look forward to working alongside the other committee members, as well as any member of Congress, as we discharge the jurisdiction assigned to us.”

Gowdy, 52, a former federal and state prosecutor in South Carolina, is in his fourth term representing the state’s 4th District, which includes the Greenville-Spartanburg metro area.

After four Americans died in a terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012, Gowdy was appointed by House GOP leaders to head a special committee to investigate the attack.

The primary target of that probe was Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attack. Gowdy’s investigation eventually led to the disclosure that Clinton had used a private email server, which prompted an FBI investigation and dogged her throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

After Donald Trump defeated Clinton, House Republicans shut down the Benghazi committee.

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