Controversial Lawmaker Wants Congress Members Tested for Drugs

By Paul Gaita 09/18/18

The bill was dismissed by the state's Democratic Party, whose executive director dismissed Higgins' proposition as "gimmicks and bravado." 

Rep. Clay Higgins
Rep. Clay Higgins Photo via YouTube

A Louisiana representative has introduced a resolution that would lawmakers in Congress to submit to drug screenings once every term. 

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), who is also a Reserve Deputy Marshal and former St. Landry's Parish public information officer who has drawn criticism for combative social media posts, said that House Concurrent Resolution 135 is intended to hold elected officials to the same standards as their constituents, who have to submit to drug testing for their jobs.

The bill, which currently has no co-sponsors, was dismissed by the state's Democratic Party, whose executive director dismissed Higgins' proposition as "gimmicks and bravado."

Higgins' resolution would require lawmakers to not only subject to the random testing, but also reimburse taxpayers for costs.

Those who test positive would be reported to the House or Senate Committee on Ethics, which would also publicize the names of any Congress members that did not submit to the tests.

In an interview with USA Today, Higgins initially joked that his resolution was based on his observation of "behavior that would cause one to wonder" about his colleagues in the U.S. House and Senate. But in a statement issued on September 13—the same day he introduced the resolution—Higgins took a more serious tone about his intentions. 

"Elected officials in Washington, D.C. should be subject to the same kind of random drug screenings that blue-collar, working-class Americans have to endure," he wrote. "Congress shouldn't live by a different set of rules. This effort is about maintaining accountability and ensuring sober service to We, the People." 

Higgins previously proposed a similar resolution in a June 2018 Facebook video, in which he stated, "Based on some of the behavior I've seen, I'd be very interested to know what kind of illegal drugs are flowing through the veins of our elected officials in Washington, D.C."

CBS affiliate KLFY-TV noted that Higgins had not specified whether he had actually seen any elected officials using or under the influence of drugs.

Louisiana Democratic Party executive director Stephen Handwerk responded to Higgins' resolution on Twitter. "When you haven't delivered at all for your district I guess all you have is gimmicks and bravado," wrote Handwerk, who also promoted Higgins' opponent for the 3rd District seat, Mimi Methvin.

Higgins initially made a name for himself on both the state and national front while with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office, where his weekly "Crime Stoppers" segments earned a following for his draconian approach to suspected criminals. A 2016 video in which he referred to predominately black gang members as "heathens" and "animals" earned a reprimand from Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, after which Higgins resigned from the parish. 

In 2017, Higgins posted a video in which he stated that "radicalized Islamic suspect[s]" should be "[hunted] down and [killed]." That same year, he posted a video taken at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial site, where he stated that such concentration camps are the reason why the United States needs stronger homeland security and military measures.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.