POGO Asks Chairman Gowdy to Give the Oversight Gavel to a Member Willing to do the Job

The Honorable Trey Gowdy
Chair, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
2418 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Gowdy:

As an organization dedicated to robust oversight of the federal government, I write you today to ask that you step down as Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (HOGR). The Project On Government Oversight has worked for decades to enhance Congress's ability to conduct effective oversight. It is from this perspective that we were disturbed by your statements on CBS’s Face the Nation on April 1, 2018, that appear to call into question Congress’s ability to conduct oversight and investigations. As Chair of one of the two primary oversight committees in Congress, you essentially told the public you don’t think you can do your job.  

During an interview with Margaret Brennan on Sunday morning you stated, “I'm glad we have an independent ball-and-strike caller” in Special Counsel Robert Mueller. “Congress has proven itself incapable of conducting serious investigations,” you continued.[1] Your apparent opinion that Congress lacks the ability to conduct serious investigations, rather than the will to do it, is irreconcilable with your leadership position on HOGR. 

Our constitutional democracy is founded on a system of checks and balances. Congress plays a vital role in overseeing the executive branch, the judiciary, and itself as a bicameral institution. The nation needs strong oversight from Congress, and HOGR is the main investigative committee in the House of Representatives. Its oversight jurisdiction covers the operation of federal agencies and the application of federal laws and programs.[2] The mission of the Committee is to “ensure the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the federal government and all its agencies. We provide a check and balance on the role and power of Washington— and a voice to the people it serves.” As the Chair of the Committee, you are responsible for every aspect of this work.

Your comments on Face the Nation are beyond disappointing. It appears that you have lost faith in Congress’s ability to do its job. As a Member of Congress, that is concerning enough. However, as Chair of HOGR, you have a responsibility to lead the very oversight and investigations that you undermined on national television.

If you are not willing to do the job required of you in this position, I ask that you resign and allow a Member who is prepared to conduct independent oversight take the gavel.

Sincerely,

Danielle Brian
Executive Director

cc:        Speaker of the House Paul Ryan



[1] Margaret Brennan, CBS NewsFace the Nation, April 1, 2018.  (Downloaded April 2, 2018)

[2] Rules of the House of Representatives, Rule X, Clause 1(n) and Clause 2, 3, and 4, January 5, 2017.  (Downloaded April 2, 2018)

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