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Clay Higgins
Clay Higgins official portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded by Charles Boustany
Personal details
Born Glen Clay Higgins
(1961-08-24) August 24, 1961 (age 56)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Eloisa Rovati (Divorced)
Stormy Rothkamm Hambrice
(Divorced)
Becca Higgins
Children 4
Education Louisiana State University
Website House website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1979–1985
Rank Army-USA-OR-06.svg Staff Sergeant
Unit Louisiana National Guard
Police career
Department St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office
Lafayette City Marshal
Years of service 2011–2016 (Sheriff's Office)
2016–present (City Marshal)
Rank Captain insignia gold.svg Captain

Glen Clay Higgins (born August 24, 1961) is an American politician and reserve law enforcement officer from the state of Louisiana. He is the U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. He won the runoff election held on December 10, 2016, in which he defeated fellow Republican Scott Angelle.

Although an elected official, Higgins continues to hold a law enforcement commission as a Reserve Deputy Marshal of the Lafayette City's Marshal's Office in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Clay Higgins is the seventh of eight children. He was born in New Orleans, and his family moved to Covington, Louisiana, when he was six years old. The family raised and trained horses.[1] After graduation from Covington High School, Higgins attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[2]

Marriage and familyEdit

Higgins married Eloisa Rovati. They had a daughter together, who died a few months after she was born. Higgins and his wife divorced. She later was in an automobile accident and died from her injuries.[3]

Higgins married Rosemary "Stormy" Rothkamm Hambrice. He adopted her child from a previous marriage, and they had two more children together.[4] They divorced in 1999 (she filed on grounds of adultery).[2][5][6]

Higgins married again and lives in Port Barre, Louisiana with his third wife Becca.[2]

CareerEdit

At age 18, Higgins enlisted in the Military Police Corps of the Louisiana National Guard, serving for six years (1979-1985) and reaching the rank of staff sergeant.[3][2][7]

He worked for several years as a manager of car dealerships and had a lucrative career with a six-figure income in Opelousas, Louisiana. But, he later said, he felt unfulfilled.[1]

Local law enforcementEdit

In 2004 Higgins changed direction, becoming a patrol officer for the Opelousas City Police Department. By 2007, Opelousas Police Department Chief Perry Gallow was prepared to take major disciplinary action against Higgins. In a letter to the City Council, he said: "Clay Higgins used unnecessary force on a subject during the execution of a warrant and later gave false statements during an internal investigation. Although he later recanted his story and admitted to striking a suspect in handcuffs and later releasing him..."[8] Higgins resigned before disciplinary action could be imposed. In September 2016 during his Congressional campaign, Higgins claimed to have resigned for other reasons. Gallow, by then retired, disputed Higgins' claim at that time.[8]

Higgins next worked for the Port Barre Police Department through 2010. In 2011, he joined the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office. After the office's public information officer was reassigned in October 2014, Higgins was appointed to the role and promoted to captain.[1][9] As public information officer, Higgins made videos for the parish Crime Stoppers program.

He first used standard scripts, but began to improvise in his own style, appealing to suspects to surrender and sometimes threatening them by name.[10] His videos went viral, and he was referred to by national media in 2015 as the "Cajun John Wayne" for his intimidating persona.[3] Sheriff Bobby Guidroz urged restraint, advising Higgins to refrain from personal comments about suspects and to keep a professional tone in his videos.[11]

Higgins also made a video for the state police, with a script that prompted protests from suspects' families and the ACLU. He resigned from the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office in February 2016.[12][13] Sheriff Bobby Guidroz had warned him against using disrespectful and demeaning language about suspects. The Sheriff had ordered him to "Tone down his unprofessional comments on our weekly Crime Stoppers messages".[14] He issued a statement saying that Higgins's comments underlined "a growing undertone of insubordination and lack of discipline on Higgins’ part".[15] Guidroz said that Higgins had gone against department policy by misusing his official badge and uniform for personal profit and gain, citing Higgins's wearing a uniform in an ad for a security firm. In addition, he reprimanded Higgins for using his badge and uniform in his personal website to support sales of t-shirts and shot glasses for his Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). In addition, Higgins used the department’s physical address in registering his LLC with the state, and both actions were against department policy.[11]

Salon reported in an investigative article that during this period, Higgins "negotiated paid speaking appearances with other police departments. In one email, Higgins discussed his request for a speaker’s fee that included shopping money for his wife and part of the fuel for his friend’s private plane."[16] He asked for cash payments. In addition, Higgins conducted his private business via email on "his government email account during work hours without the permission or knowledge of his supervisors. Higgins also appears to have attempted to conceal his earnings from the IRS in order to avoid wage garnishment for unpaid taxes. Whether those actions constitute tax fraud is unclear."[16]

Shortly after resigning from St. Landry Parish, in March 2016 Higgins was accepted and sworn in as a Reserve Deputy Marshal in the city of Lafayette, Louisiana.[17] Reserve forces in city and Parish Sheriff's offices in Louisiana receive regular training and are commissioned as law enforcement officers. They are part-time and made up of persons from many walks of life.[18]

HonorsEdit

Higgins was awarded the title of Kentucky Colonel in March 2016 by Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin.[19]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

2016 campaignEdit

After Higgins' resignation from the St. Landry Police Department, Chris Comeaux, a Republican campaign staffer, recruited Higgins to run for office.[10] In May 2016, Higgins declared his candidacy for the 2016 election to represent Louisiana's 3rd congressional district and build on his name recognition.[20][21] He crossed district lines to run for this seat, as he resides in the 5th congressional district.[2] Higgins was supported by a Super PAC (political action committee), headed by US Senator David Vitter's former chief of staff.[20]

Higgins finished in second place in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on November 8, behind Republican Scott Angelle, in which nearly 68% of the parish voted.[20][22] He faced Angelle in a runoff election on December 10 and won with 56.1 percent of the votes cast; turnout had declined to about 28% of voters.[20] Angelle outspent Higgins by a 5-1 margin in the losing effort.[23] An LSU professor noted that "Higgins was a YouTube sensation before running for office and already was well-versed in attracting attention."[24]

TenureEdit

Higgins was sworn into the House of Representatives on January 3, 2017.[25]

He has said that he sleeps on an air mattress on the floor of his Capitol Hill office.[26][27] He works out and showers in the House gymnasium in the early morning. In the evenings, he spends more time at his desk to prepare for expected House votes the next day.[27]

Higgins describes a typical week as service on three committees and six sub-committees, and consultations with the party leadership. The Louisiana delegation, Higgins said, is united on most issues but must serve many constituencies. He says they maintain civility even when members disagree with one another. He rejected claims that he is "a bomb thrower" in the political process, despite his non-conventional congressional campaign and support for President Donald Trump.[27]

Higgins voted with other Republicans in favor of the American Health Care Act of 2017, which would have repealed and replaced major portions of Obamacare.[28]

On June 5, 2017, Higgins announced what the American Press described as a 'historically rare' feat; he had secured an additional $10 million from the Army Corps of Engineers' discretionary fund to support dredging the Calcasieu Ship Channel. Port Director Bill Rase said, “It has been a long time since we’ve had strong leadership in Washington to get the whole delegation together. We’ve been working with everybody to try to keep Calcasieu in the forefront of the dredging situation, and Congressman Higgins has been very strong in that area since he has been office.”[29]

In December 2017, Higgins voted with other Republicans in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.[30][31]

Committee assignmentsEdit

2018 campaignEdit

Higgins is being challenged by Independent candidates Rob Anderson[32] and Dave Langlinais, Democrats Phillip Conner and Mildred "Mimi" Methvin, and Republican Josh Guillory.[33]

President Donald Trump offered his full endorsement of Congressman Higgins in a tweet saying, ".@RepClayHiggins has been a great help to me on Cutting Taxes, creating great new healthcare programs at low cost, fighting for Border Security, our Military and are Vets. He is tough on Crime and has my full Endorsement. The Great State of Louisiana, we want Clay!"[34]

Political stancesEdit

Domestic issuesEdit

Gun lawEdit

Higgins supports gun rights. In 2017 he stated "The modern hysteria over guns is another example of our weakened society. Guns weren't really regulated at all prior to the 60s in America. Throughout our history, prior to just 50 years ago, a child could purchase a gun from any seller, if daddy sent him with the money."[35]

In 2018, Higgins commented on his Facebook page about an OpEd article by retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in the New York Times, which called for the repeal of the Second Amendment.[36] Higgins said, "Judge John Paul Stevens, Your Honor, whatever... put together any badass socialists you can muster. As their attorney, make sure they have their affairs in order. Molon Labe." [37]

National securityEdit

Higgins supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to temporarily curtail travel from certain countries until better screening methods are devised. He stated that "The president’s executive order for a short-term restriction on visa entries from seven countries, that are known to foster terrorists, combined with a systematic review of our immigration and vetting procedure, is reasonable."[38]

Social issuesEdit

AbortionEdit

Higgins is pro-life.[35]

LGBTEdit

Higgins is against same-sex marriage and believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. He says he believes that states should have the right to dictate their own marriage laws, rather than the Supreme Court deciding it.[35]

Auschwitz videoEdit

In early July 2017, Higgins posted a five-minute video on YouTube from Auschwitz concentration camp, including a section from within one of the gas chambers. He said, "This is why homeland security must be squared away, why our military must be invincible".[39] This video was widely condemned as inappropriate, including by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, whose spokesman wrote in a Twitter post that "the building should not be used as a stage".[40][41] Higgins later removed his video from YouTube and issued an apology.[42][39]

Personal lifeEdit

His ex-wife Hambrice, then living in Mississippi, filed a lawsuit in Louisiana the day after the 2016 election against Higgins for unpaid child support of more than $140,000, including interest on overdue payments.[5][43] Higgins said that he sought reduced payments in 2005 after changing careers to law enforcement, but the issue was never settled. The Daily Advertiser reported: "Calls about the case made by this newspaper in September, first to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, then to Louisiana courts, brought similar responses from both places: Clay Higgins was not in trouble with the courts in either state over the child support payments."[4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Cook, Lanie Lee (May 13, 2015). "St. Landry deputy finds new meaning, viral fame in his role of no-nonsense sheriff's spokesman". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Georges Media. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Stickney, Ken (September 16, 2016). "Higgins: God led him to challenge Angelle". Jackson Sun. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Holley, Peter (May 6, 2015). "Meet the 'Cajun John Wayne,' the deputy whose meme-worthy videos terrify criminals". Washington Post. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Stickney, Ken (November 16, 2016). "Will dusty child support case hobble Higgins?". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved March 17, 2018. 
  5. ^ a b Stickney, Ken (November 16, 2016). "Will dusty child support case hobble Higgins?". The Advertiser. Retrieved July 6, 2017. 
  6. ^ Ballard, Mark (December 8, 2016). "In newly released tape recordings, Higgins says winning election will help him pay $100K-plus in child support". The Advocate. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Clay Higgins", House of Representatives
  8. ^ a b "Clay Higgins resigned from OPD in 2007 on cusp of major disciplinary measures". The Independent. 29 September 2016. Retrieved July 5, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Meet the man hailed as the "John Wayne" of Cajun country". CBS News. New York City: CBS Broadcasting. September 3, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
  10. ^ a b Stickney, Ken (December 16, 2016). "Higgins carves unlikely path to Capitol". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b "UPDATE: Sheriff issues expanded statement; Clay Higgins leaves the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office". KATC. February 29, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  12. ^ Dickerson, Seth (May 18, 2016). "Clay Higgins announces run for congress". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  13. ^ Ng, Alfred (February 29, 2016). "La. officer quits because he can't make 'demeaning' comments". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  14. ^ "UPDATE: Sheriff issues expanded statement; Clay Higgins leaves the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office". 
  15. ^ "Clay Higgins' Departure from the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Department" (PDF). St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office. 
  16. ^ a b Kopplin, Zack. "Uniform misconduct: Inside the rise and possible fall of "The Cajun John Wayne," GOP congressional candidate Clay Higgins". Salon. 
  17. ^ Dickerson, Seth (March 17, 2016). "Higgins sworn in as reserve Lafayette deputy marshal". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Who We Are: Reserve Deputy Program", East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, 2011. Quote: "Our Reserve Deputies are part time, non-salaried, fully-commissioned law enforcement officers. Reserve Deputies have the same responsibilities, the same duties, and receive the same level of training and, most importantly, they have the same authority as their regularly employed counterparts. Opportunities exist within the Reserve organization for individuals to serve in all areas of law enforcement."; accessed 30 April 2018
  19. ^ Chris Reed, "Captain Clay Higgins Awarded Prestigious Title From Kentucky Governor", HOT107.9 radio, 30 March 2016; accessed 30 April 2018
  20. ^ a b c d Ballard, Mark (December 10, 2016). "Clay Higgins – Cajun John Wayne – defeats Scott Angelle in 3rd District congressional race". The Advocate. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Clay Higgins announces run for Louisiana third congressional district seat". KATC. May 18, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  22. ^ Ballard, Mark (December 3, 2016). "3rd Congressional District race pitting Scott Angelle against Clay Higgins seen as tossup". The Advocate. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  23. ^ Stickney, Ken (April 18, 2017). "Higgins returns to 'a very special place'". The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved February 14, 2018. 
  24. ^ Mark Ballard, "Clay Higgins' key to winning congressional seat: 'New media matched up with '30s campaign style'", The Advocate, 12 December 2016; accessed 30 April 2018
  25. ^ Barfield Berry, Deborah (January 4, 2017). "New Louisiana lawmakers sworn in". USA Today. The Daily Advertiser. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
  26. ^ Stickney, Ken (August 2017). "Does Clay Higgins still sleep in his office?". The Daily Advertiser. Lafeyette, Louisiana: Gannett Company. Retrieved January 29, 2018. 
  27. ^ a b c Stickney, Ken (February 21, 2017). "Meet the Cajun congressman who sleeps on his office floor". The Shreveport Times. Shreveport, Louisiana: Gannett Company. Retrieved February 25, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 256". 
  29. ^ Fontenot, Emily (June 6, 2017). "Historically Rare: Higgins secures extra $10 million for port". American Press. Lake Charles, Louisiana: Shearman Corp. Retrieved June 12, 2017. 
  30. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved December 31, 2017. 
  31. ^ "GOP tax plan has Louisiana-specific benefits, senators say". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, Louisiana: Advance Publications. December 21, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Rob Anderson for Congress 2018". 
  33. ^ "Josh Guillory for Congress". October 31, 2017. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  34. ^ Hilburn, Greg (June 25, 2018). "Trump tweets: 'We want Clay!'". The News Star. Retrieved July 7, 2018. 
  35. ^ a b c Bess, Gabby (January 6, 2017). "An Incredibly Upsetting List of All the New Republican Congress Members". Broadly. Brooklyn, New York: Vice Media LLC. Retrieved December 31, 2017. 
  36. ^ Stevens, John Paul (March 27, 2018). "John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 29, 2018. 
  37. ^ "Captain Clay Higgins". www.facebook.com. Retrieved March 29, 2018. 
  38. ^ Blake, Aaron (January 29, 2017). "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Denver Post. Denver, Colorado: Digital First Media. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  39. ^ a b Press, Associated (July 6, 2017). "Congressman apologies for video in gas chamber at Nazi concentration camp". The Guardian. Retrieved July 6, 2017. 
  40. ^ "US congressman condemned for Auschwitz gas chamber video". BBC. July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017. 
  41. ^ "Auschwitz Memorial condemns congressman's gas chamber video". ABC News. July 5, 2017. Retrieved July 5, 2017. 
  42. ^ Elliott, Debbie (July 5, 2017). "Congressman Retracts Auschwitz Video And Apologizes, After Criticism". NPR. Retrieved July 6, 2017. 
  43. ^ Ballard, Mark (November 11, 2016). "Clay Higgins, in runoff for 3rd District seat, faces child support lawsuit from former wife". The Advocate. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 

External linksEdit