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Public Statements

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GOWDY. Madam Chair, I was not going to talk because I talked yesterday on Fast and Furious, and Representative Chaffetz did a wonderful job. But, Madam Chair, I cannot stand here while demonstrably false insinuations are leveled.

I worked for the Department of Justice for 6 years. I worked with ATF for 16 years. I'll put the respect that I have for Federal law enforcement and Federal prosecutor up against anybody in this body.

It may well be that the documents we haven't gotten clear all the senior DOJ officials. How will we possibly know that if he continues to withhold documents?

So, Madam Chair, let me just ask this. To the average citizen who gets a grand jury subpoena or a subpoena for documents or to compel their presence, what would happen if they ignored it? Madam Chair, what would happen if you got a jury summons and you just decided you weren't going to show up? What would happen to the average citizen if they got a subpoena from a congressional committee and they just decided to ignore it, and their defense was, We gave you some documents?

There are 70,000-something documents that the Inspector General has. We have \1/12\ of that. There are entire categories of documents that we do not have.

We do not have a single email from the Attorney General of the United States after February 4, 2011. I want you to ask yourself how many emails you have sent and received today. And the number is zero from February 4, 2011, until present?

And Congressman Chaffetz is exactly right. There was a demonstrably false letter sent to a Member of Congress. And then the Department of Justice, that I actually value its reputation--we have to have a Department of Justice that people respect. But the Department of Justice took the unprecedented step of having to withdraw a letter sent to a Member of Congress because it was demonstrably false.

On February 4, 2011, the Department of Justice, on Department of Justice letterhead, mails a demonstrably false letter denying a tactic called ``gunwalking.'' On the very same day, the criminal chief of the Department of Justice of the United States of America is in Mexico advocating for the tactic of gunwalking. And somehow, we can't ask the Department of Justice to tell us who knew what when?

And the gentleman on the other side of the aisle, Madam Chair, said everyone has been punished. Madam Chair, no one has been punished. There hasn't been a demotion. There hasn't been a firing. There hasn't been a sanction. There hasn't been a frowny face on a performance evaluation. There's been nothing.

So I'm going to say what I said yesterday, Madam Chair. This is not just another Department in someone's Cabinet. This isn't just some other political appointee. This is the Attorney General for the United States of America. It is the Department of Justice. If they cannot comply with a lawfully-executed subpoena, then there should be sanctions, just like there would be for me or you.

So I urge support for Representative Chaffetz's amendment.

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Mr. GOWDY. Madam Chairwoman, my mother was a victims advocate in a prosecutor's office when I was growing up. She would come home and lament the fact that defendants could pick any lawyer they wanted to defend them, but the victims of crime were stuck with the district attorney. Her message to me, the lesson she was trying to impress on me, is that crime victims have a right to have a good attorney, too.

If you fast forward a couple of years, I went to law school, and I became a district attorney. I tried to hire people to come help me do a good job for crime victims. Madam Chairwoman, I was hiring primarily at that time young female prosecutors--Cindy Crick, Kim Leskanic, Jenny Wells, Susan Porter--many of whom had up to $70,000 in student loan debt, could have and should have gone into private practice and paid their loans back and made a lot of money. But something within them wanted to stand up for rape victims and criminal domestic violence victims and child sex assault victims. So they sacrificed the lure of private practice to come to public service.

Madam Chairwoman, it is not without irony that the program that my friend from Massachusetts speaks of is named after a man named John R. Justice, who was a solicitor district attorney in South Carolina. He represented the poorest solicitors judicial circuit in the State. They were understaffed and overworked. He used to tell me, Madam Chairwoman, that he was just sticking his fingers in the hole of the dam to try to keep the water from coming through. But the solicitor justice--God rest his soul--had a vision of trying to encourage people to want to do something as noble as be a prosecutor in South Carolina.

So whereas I usually stand off and I talk about cutting this and cutting that, law and order, prosecution, respect for the rule of law are core functions of government. And as much money as we spend on other programs, surely to goodness we can find a little bit of money to help relieve the student loan obligations of women and men who are prosecuting while they're sitting across the table from criminal offense attorneys who make 5 to 7 to 10 times their salary. Surely we can do that, and surely we can give the victims of crime as good a lawyer as the defendants of crime get.

I would urge my colleagues to give very serious consideration to the John R. Justice Scholarship program for public defenders and prosecutors.

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Mr. GOWDY. Madam Chairwoman, I would just say, again, that really in times of prosperity, we should be having conversations about the size and the scope of government. And of course you have to have it in times of austerity.

I just view the criminal justice system, law enforcement, prosecutors as a core function of government, whether it's State government or Federal Government. And we want to incentivize and encourage good people who are not hamstrung by debilitating student loans to go pursue that, as opposed to just going into private practice where they can make money.

I have lived it. I have seen what it can do for our office, and I would hope that my colleagues would give favorable consideration to it. And if not, I take the chairman and the ranking member at their word that they'll give it a look at the appropriate time.

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Mr. GOWDY. Madam Chairwoman, if the government wants to ask you if you're having trouble keeping your attention or how many flush toilets you have, I suppose they can ask that. But should they really be able to fine you for not answering? And it is of very little comfort to us that the government has seen fit to not enforce that fine. To threaten somebody with the administration of a fine and then never to carry through on it sounds eerily similar, to me, Madam Chairwoman, to blackmail. What's the purpose of putting it on there if you're never going to enforce it? And if you can do it to 250,000 this time, what's to keep you from doing it to 500,000 the next time, and then a million?

The purpose of the census, Madam Chairwoman, is to apportion the several congressional districts. So what do you need to be able to apportion the several congressional districts? You need to know how many people of voting age are in a household. You need to know race so you can comport with constitutional provisions. You may very well need to know the gender of the people in the home so you can comport with constitutional provisions. But you don't need to know anything beyond that.

We had a subcommittee hearing on this, Madam Chairwoman, and what I find to be ironic--and I never got an answer to it--is this: you don't have to vote. The government can't do a single, solitary thing to you if you don't vote. They can't fine you. They can't put you in jail. But somehow or another they can if you fail to fill out the document that apportions the congressional districts so you can vote. That is tortured logic.

And I would say this in conclusion, Madam Chairwoman. If you want to ask about anything other than how many people live here, race, and sex, it's none of the government's business.

And that's just the way it is.

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