U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican from South Carolina’s 4th District who was hailed by conservatives for his persistent questioning of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s actions during Benghazi, is set to speak April 20 in Fort Smith.
The speech is a part of the 2017 Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series conducted by the U.S. Marshals Museum, and will be held at the Fort Smith Convention Center.
Alice Alt, vice president of development for the museum, confirmed the appearance after U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Fort Smith, revealed the booking in a public forum on Feb. 10. Alt said details are still being worked out with Rep. Gowdy’s office, but she did tell Talk Business & Politics the Congressman would speak on the topics of constitutional law, civic literacy, the rule of law, and American democracy. Talk Business & Politics also reached out to Gowdy for confirmation Monday (Feb. 13), but did not receive a response.
Alt said it is the goal of the lecture series to focus on members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. In 2015, the event welcomed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“This year we went with the legislative field, and we think Congressman Gowdy will be a great speaker,” Alt said.
“Justice Scalia did such a great job, so when we were talking about who we could get to follow, I just threw out the name Trey Gowdy,” Womack added, claiming he thought the name “would resonate with a lot of people.”
Womack continued: “In the six years he’s been in Congress, he has become legendary in his ability to conduct hearings and speak the truth about matters that are important to all of us particularly as far as the Constitution is concerned. I was more than happy to make the ask, and I remember the conversation I had with Trey. He said, ‘First of all, the answer is yes.’”
Gowdy serves on the House Committees on Intelligence, Ethics, Oversight and Government Reform, and Judiciary, where he also serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
As a federal prosecutor, he prosecuted narcotics trafficking rings, bank robberies, child pornography cases, and the murder of a federal witness. He received the Postal Inspector’s Award for the successful prosecution of J. Mark Allen, one of “America’s Most Wanted” suspects, and received the highest performance rating a federal prosecutor can receive for two consecutive years. He also served two years as Chair of the House Benghazi Committee, which was created in response to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack resulting in the deaths of four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
THE LECTURE SERIES, MUSEUM TARGETS
Lisenne Rockefeller, wife of late Lt. Governor Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, made a grant to the U.S. Marshals Museum in mid-2014 to fund the national lecture series. The event is one facet of the museum’s ongoing push to raise $30 million in funds in the next few years and begin dirt work in July 2017 on a facility set to open Sept. 24, 2019.
The opening date is significant because it will mark the 230th anniversary of the agency created under Congressional approval of the Judiciary Act and signed by President George Washington. The act appointed 13 Marshals, and one of their early duties was to conduct the U.S. Census.
In January 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service selected Fort Smith as the site for the estimated 50,000-square-foot national museum. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in September 2015 on a site near the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith, and museum officials initially hoped to have the facility open by late 2017.
The museum will contain three primary exhibition galleries, a temporary exhibits gallery, a Hall of Honor, and a National Learning Center to offer programs for students, adults, and families. The three galleries are: “Marshals Today,” an overview of the role of U.S. Marshals in contemporary society; “A Changing Nation,” telling key stories of U.S. Marshals history; and “Frontier Marshals,” bringing law to the ever-changing frontier.