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Louis Buller Gohmert Jr. (/ˈɡmərt/; born August 18, 1953) is an American attorney and former judge who currently serves as the U.S. Representative from Texas' 1st congressional district, in office since 2005, a member of the Republican Party, Gohmert is part of the Tea Party movement. In January 2015, he unsuccessfully challenged John Boehner for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives.[1]

Louie Gohmert
Louie Gohmert official photo 2.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 1st district
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded byMax Sandlin
Personal details
Born
Louis Buller Gohmert Jr.

(1953-08-18) August 18, 1953 (age 66)
Pittsburg, Texas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Kathy Gohmert (m. 1978)
Children3
EducationTexas A&M University (BA)
Baylor University (JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1978–1982
RankUS-O3 insignia.svg Captain
UnitArmy Judge Advocate General's Corps
AwardsMeritorious Service Medal

Early life and educationEdit

Gohmert was born in Pittsburg, Texas, the son of Erma Sue (née Brooks) and Louis Buller Gohmert. He is of German descent on his father's side.[2][3] Gohmert was raised in Mount Pleasant, Texas, where he graduated from the local high school in 1971.[4]

He enrolled in Texas A&M University, receiving U.S. Army scholarship and earning a B.A. in history in 1975.[5] Gohmert commanded a cadet brigade in the Corps of Cadets and served as class president.[6] He was also a student leader for the MSC Student Conference on National Affairs alongside future fellow Congressman Chet Edwards, and a member of the Ross Volunteer Company.[7]

Gohmert received a Juris Doctor degree from Baylor Law School in Waco, Texas in 1977, where he was also class president.[8]

Early political careerEdit

Gohmert served in the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, at Fort Benning, Georgia, from 1978-82.[9][10] The majority of his legal service in the U.S. Army was as a defense attorney.

Gohmert was elected as a state district judge for Texas's 7th Judicial District, serving Smith County (Tyler, Texas) from 1992 to 2002. He was elected to three terms.[9] He first saw national recognition for a 1996 probation requirement where he ordered an H.I.V. positive man, who was convicted on motor vehicle theft charges, to seek the written consent from all future sexual partners on a court provided form notifying them of his H.I.V. status.[11]

The order angered LGBT activists and civil libertarians.[11] In 2002, Gohmert was appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to fill a vacancy as Chief Justice on Texas's 12th Court of Appeals, where he served a six-month term, which ended in 2003.[8]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

ElectionsEdit

A mid-decade redistricting made the 1st District significantly more conservative than its predecessor. Tyler, which had long anchored the 4th District, was shifted to the 1st District. In the 2004 Republican primary, Gohmert defeated State Representative Wayne Christian of Center, Texas. He defeated Democratic incumbent 1st District Congressman Max Sandlin in a landslide with 61% of the vote. He has never faced another contest even that close, and has been reelected seven times, never dropping below 68 percent of the vote. He only faced an independent in 2008, and a Libertarian in 2010.

Gohmert handily won his seventh term in the general election held on November 8, 2016. With 192,434 votes (73.9%), he defeated Democrat Shirley J. McKellar, who polled 62,847 ballots (24.1%). Libertarian Phil Gray polled 5,062 votes (1.9%).[12]

TenureEdit

 
Gohmert with President George W. Bush in 2005

On July 29, 2009, Gohmert signed on as a co-sponsor of the defeated H.R. 1503. This bill would have amended "the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require the principal campaign committee of a candidate for election to the office of president to include with the committee's statement of organization a copy of the candidate's birth certificate, together with such other documentation as may be necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications for eligibility to the office of president under the Constitution".[13]

Gohmert stated in a House Judiciary Hearing on May 15, 2013, that he believed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) did not act with due diligence concerning alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. His contention was that the FBI was more interested in Christian groups such as those led by Billy and Franklin Graham than in groups that might be considered less politically correct to target. Attorney General Eric Holder responded to his claims: "The only observation I was going to make is that you state as a matter of fact what the FBI did and did not do. Unless somebody has done something inappropriate, you don't have access to the FBI files ... I know what the FBI did. You cannot know what I know. That's all". Gohmert objected to this on the grounds that Holder had "challenge[d]" his character and made several unsuccessful attempts to inject his viewpoint as a point of personal privilege.[14]

On January 3, 2013, Gohmert broke ranks with the House leadership to nominate outspoken Florida Representative Allen West for Speaker of the House, although West narrowly lost his bid for re-election in November 2012, and was no longer a member of Congress.[15]

Although he has previously ruled out the possibility of a bid for the U.S. Senate, he has recently been boosted by at least one "tea party" group (Grassroots America We the People) as a primary challenger to current Republican Senator John Cornyn.[16]

A vocal critic of House speaker John Boehner, Gohmert challenged his re-election to the speakership for the 114th Congress when Congress convened on January 6, 2015.[17] Boehner was re-elected, even though 25 Freedom Caucus Republicans chose not to vote for him – Gohmert received 3 of those votes.[18][19]

In July 2015, Gohmert delivered a speech to the U.S. Congress in which he called upon the Democratic Party to disband due to its historical support of slavery and racism.[20][21]

In 2017, Gohmert expressed fear that he might become the target of gun violence similar to that experienced by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and refused to hold public town hall meetings.[22]

Fiscal policyEdit

Gohmert has signed the Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[23] He offered an alternative plan to kick-start the economy with his tax holiday bill that would allow taxpayers to be exempt for two months from having federal income tax taken out of their paychecks.[24]

He was one of a number of Republicans who voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011 on grounds it did not do enough to deal with the government's growing debt.[25]

Gohmert was one of four Republicans who joined 161 Democrats to vote against a balanced budget Constitutional amendment in November 2011.[26]

Gohmert supports and has voted for legislation in favor of school vouchers.[27]

Gohmert strongly supported the Baseline Reform Act of 2013 (H.R. 1871; 113th Congress), a bill that would change the way in which discretionary appropriations for individual accounts are projected in the Congressional Budget Office's baseline.[28] Under H.R. 1871, projections of such spending would still be based on the current year's appropriations, but would not be adjusted for inflation going forward.[28] Gohmert said that "conservatives have advocated for years that there should be no automatic spending increases in any federal department's budget ... that has been a trap so when we simply slow the rate of increase, we are accused of making draconian cuts."[29] He argued the legislation would make clearer "what is an increase and what is a cut", put the government in the same situation as American families, and help with the task of getting the debt under control.[29]

Climate change and the environmentEdit

Gohmert does not believe in manmade climate change, and has asserted that data supporting the theory is fraudulent.[30] He opposes cap-and-trade legislation, such as the one that was passed in the U.S. House when it had a Democratic majority, and supports expanding drilling, and exploration and drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).[30]

In an interview on the C-SPAN program Washington Journal on July 8, 2015, after Pope Francis issued his second encyclical Laudato si', Gohmert said the Pope was incorrect in identifying climate change as a serious problem.[31][32] Gohmert supported the U. S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.[33]

In a 2012 meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee, Gohmert stated his strong support of a trans-Alaskan pipeline, as a means for caribou to have more sex.[34][35][36]

According to Gohmert, "When [the caribou] want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline. So [his] real concern now [is] ... if oil stops running through the pipeline ... do we need a study to see how adversely the caribou would be affected if that warm oil ever quit flowing?" Gohmert's comments were not favorably received by the rest of the committee.[37][38]

Social policyEdit

 
Gohmert speaking at a rally in 2011

Gohmert is pro-life and opposes abortion. He has stated that he believes that life begins at conception. Gohmert sponsored the Sanctity of Human Life Act. Gohmert voted for the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, a bill that prohibits the transportation of a minor across state lines for the purposes of an abortion without the consent of the minor's parents. He has 100% pro-life voting record rating from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).[39][40]

At a congressional hearing on May 23, 2013, on an abortion bill that would ban the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Gohmert told the story of another couple he knew that decided to go through with their pregnancy despite learning of fetal anomalies. He told Zink, a woman witness, that she should have gone through with her pregnancy despite some doctor's opinion that the brain function was impaired, and then have a better assessment of the baby's health once it was born. Gohmert explained: "Ms. Zink, having my great sympathy and empathy both, I still come back wondering, shouldn't we wait, like that couple did, and see if the child can survive before we decide to rip him apart? ... So these are ethical issues, they're moral issues, they're difficult issues, and the parents should certainly be consulted. But it just seems like, it's a more educated decision if the child is in front of you to make those decisions", Gohmert said.[41]

Gohmert opposes LGBT rights. In 2009, he voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a bill that expanded the federal hate crime law to cover crimes biased by the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.[42] In 2010, Gohmert opposed allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the U.S. military and voted against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act.[43] In 2019, Gohmert expressed his strong opposition to the Equality Act, a bill that would protect LGBT people against discrimination.[44]

On December 16, 2012, two days after the Sandy Hook shootings, Gohmert appeared on Fox News Sunday and suggested that the tragedy would have never happened had the teachers been armed. He told host Chris Wallace, "I wish to God that she [principal Dawn L. Hochsprung] had an M4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids." He claimed that the 20 victims who had been killed with a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle had "defensive wounds".[45]

On March 22, 2016, Gohmert was one of only 4 representatives to vote against H.R. 4742 (383 voted for the act). H.R. 4742 is a bill to authorize the National Science Foundation to support entrepreneurial programs for women. Gohmert gave the following quotes in defense of his position: Gohmert acknowledged that the bill was "well intentioned," but said that "this program is designed to discriminate against that young, poverty-stricken boy and to encourage the girl. Forget the boy. Encourage the girl."[46]

In December 2018, with the possibility of a government shutdown that month looming, the House passed a bill funding the government through February and providing 5.7 billion for the border wall between the United States and Mexico favored by President Trump hours after he told House Republican leaders that he would not sign a package passed in the Senate due to it not providing money for the barrier.[47] After the shutdown commenced, Gohmert was asked by Griff Jenkins how long President Trump should keep the government closed, Gohmert noting that it was only a fourth of the government that was shutdown as Congress had already approved other portions of the funding through September 2019 and answered that Trump should keep it closed "till hell freezes over" as Congress owed Americans border security. Gohmert added that the most compassionate thing the US could do for Mexico and Central America was to not bestow either country with "money that ends up in the hands of drug cartels."[48] In a later statement, Gohmert said, "It is simply outrageous that people who live behind walls, gated communities, have armed body guards and lead the Democrat Party, like millionaire Speaker Pelosi, would deny the American public the simple right to be safe from dangerous criminal elements included in the groups pouring illegally into our country."[49]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Committee on the Judiciary

Committee on Natural Resources (Vice Chair)

Caucus membershipsEdit

 
Gohmert with Ben Shapiro in 2018

ControversiesEdit

"Terror baby"Edit

On August 12, 2010, Gohmert appeared on Anderson Cooper 360° to defend comments he had recently made on the floor of the House regarding "terror babies". In a speech about national security made on the House floor in June 2010,[55] Gohmert claimed that a retired FBI agent had told him that one of the things the FBI had been looking at were terrorist cells overseas sending young women to become pregnant so they would deliver the baby in the United States, and then take the baby with them back to be raised as a terrorist. When adult, this operative—a U.S. citizen by birth—could be easily infiltrated in the U.S. to carry out terrorist actions.[56]

On Fox Business News, Gohmert later claimed that an airline passenger with a relative in Hamas had a grandchild who was to be intentionally born in the United States.[57]

In the interview, Gohmert asserted that pregnant women from the Middle East are traveling to the US on tourist visas, planning to deliver the child there.[58]

According to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, this automatically grants citizenship to the child. He asserted that the child would then be returned to the mother's home country and be submitted to a life of terrorist training. When repeatedly asked by the host for any evidence of this, Gohmert did not provide substantiation for either the ex-FBI agent story or the airline passenger story, but gave a description of a Washington Post article,[59] which described "birth tourism" packages, mainly directed at Chinese tourists. These "birth tourism" packages, Gohmert pointed out, take advantage of a "gaping hole in the security of our country."[60]

Muslim BrotherhoodEdit

On June 13, 2012, Gohmert was one of five Republican United States representatives (including Michele Bachmann, Trent Franks, Tom Rooney, Lynn Westmoreland) to send letters to the Inspectors General[61] of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Department of State outlining their "serious national security concerns", and asking for "answers to questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical groups' access to top Obama administration officials." In the letter, Gohmert and the other U.S. lawmakers wrote about information they claim "raises serious questions about Department of State policies and activities that appear to be a result of influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood."[62]

One of the letters in particular to Ambassador Harold W. Geisel, the Deputy Inspector General of the United States Department of State, mentioned the Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, as an example of the undue influence. The letter said that Abedin, wife of former U.S. representative Anthony Weiner, who had access to sensitive national security and policy information, "has three family members–her late father, her mother and her brother–connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations", as backed up by a study by the Center for Security Policy.[63][64][65]

The letter and the Center for Security Policy's accusation were widely denounced as a smear, and achieved "near-universal condemnation", including from several prominent Republicans such as John McCain, John Boehner, Scott Brown, and Marco Rubio.[66][67][68]

Gohmert and his colleagues were praised by Newt Gingrich as the "National Security Five" in an editorial on the Politico website. Gingrich expressed he favors investigating the Muslim Brotherhood, and made clear his support to Gohmert and the other four state-elected representatives for rising up concerns that improve national security.[69] Columnist Cal Thomas replied, to accusations of "McCarthyism", that the real possibility of infiltration by Islamic extremists deserves to be investigated.[70]

Comments on Robert MuellerEdit

Representative Gohmert was one of three Republicans who called for the resignation of Robert Mueller, the prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, on the grounds that they believe Mueller can not conduct his investigation fairly "because of his relationship with James Comey, his successor at the bureau"[71] As of March 2016, "[s]ix people connected to President Trump have been charged by the special counsel with an array of crimes, including financial fraud and lying to Congress and investigators. Five have been convicted or pleaded guilty. Twenty-eight others, including 26 Russians, also face charges."[72] However, Mueller did not exonerate Trump on the issue of obstruction - a fact he reiterated during the House Judiciary Committee hearing. In a June 2019 interview with Politico, Gohmert referred to Mueller as an "anal opening."[73]

Comments on George SorosEdit

In December, 2018, Gohmert made national news headlines as a guest on Fox News. Gohmert digressed from the topic of Google to assert an unrelated and defamatory allegation about Holocaust survivor and philanthropist George Soros. The allegation, which is popular on right wing propaganda websites but has been thoroughly debunked by credible news sources, denigrates Soro's childhood experiences during the Holocaust. Later, Stuart Varney of Fox News apologized for Gohmert's "false allegations" against Soros.[74]

Electoral historyEdit

Texas's 1st congressional district election, 2004[75]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Louie Gohmert 157,068 61.47%
Democratic Max Sandlin (incumbent) 96,281 37.68%
Libertarian Dean L. Tucker 2,158 0.84%
Texas's 1st congressional district election, 2006[75]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Louie Gohmert (incumbent) 104,099 68.00%
Democratic Roger L. Owen 46,303 30.24%
Libertarian Donald Perkison 2,668 1.74%
Texas's 1st congressional district election, 2008[75]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Louie Gohmert (incumbent) 189,012 87.57%
Independent Roger L. Owen 26,814 12.42%
Texas's 1st congressional district election, 2010[75]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Louie Gohmert (incumbent) 129,398 89.72%
Libertarian Charles F. Parkes III 14,811 10.27%
Texas's 1st congressional district election, 2012[75]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Louie Gohmert (incumbent) 178,322 71.4%
Democratic Shirley J. McKellar 67,222 26.9%
Libertarian Clark Patterson 4,114 1.64%
Texas's 1st congressional district election, 2014[75]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Louie Gohmert (incumbent) 115,084 77.47%
Democratic Shirley J. McKellar 33,476 22.53%
Texas's 1st congressional district election, 2016[75]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Louie Gohmert (incumbent) 192,434 73.90%
Democratic Shirley J. McKellar 62,847 24.13%
Libertarian Phil Gray 5,062 1.94%
Texas's 1st congressional district election, 2018[75]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Louie Gohmert (incumbent) 168,165 72.26%
Democratic Shirley J. McKellar 61,263 26.32%
Libertarian Jeff Callaway 3,292 1.41%

Personal lifeEdit

Gohmert and his wife Kathy are parents to three daughters. Gohmert attends Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, where he has served as a deacon and teaches Sunday school.[77] Gohmert is a Southern Baptist.[78]

ReferencesEdit

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