A VISIT WITH LYNN WESTMORELAND
On Wednesday, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland spoke to the Carroll County Bar Association (CCBA). After deciding not to seek a 7th term representing the 3rd Congressional District of Georgia, which includes a large part of west Georgia, he was relaxed and spoke openly about how our country came from a small courageous group of Americans with unprecedented freedoms to a massive federal government that has chipped away at our freedoms as time passes.
His background began like many of us. He was born and raised in Georgia. He became a small business owner when he started L.A.W. Builders. While running his business, Lynn was elected to the Georgia State House, where he served for 12 years. He was eventually elected to serve as the Republican Leader, a position he held for three years. In 2004, Lynn was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 2014, he was re-elected to his sixth term. In 2016 Lynn announced he wouldn't seek a seventh term. Lynn and his wife Joan have been married for 47 years. They have three children and seven grandchildren.
While in Congress, Westmoreland served on many committees. Most interestingly, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. On the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Congressman Westmoreland served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and NSA. The House Intel Committee is charged with oversight of the United States Intelligence Community, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
In 2014, Congressman Westmoreland was selected by Speaker Boehner to serve on the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Congressman Westmoreland’s involvement in an informal working group and his work on the Intel Committee made him one of the most knowledgeable people in America on the attacks and killing of our troops.
I met Lynn around 2010 at an event at Dr. Charles Hubbard’s home. I took my then 5-year-old son, Jake, to the event because he wanted to meet our congressman. Jake had a great time. He particularly remembers reaching up and shaking Lynn’s hand. But, Jake can sometimes be a little stubborn, not so excited about following directions, and likes to do things his own way. These traits, of course, come from his mother, though she may not totally agree. When the event was winding up, I could not find Jake. I looked everywhere. Friends and family were getting into Lynn’s car. Then, someone said “we have an extra passenger in the back.” Jake had his seatbelt on ready for a ride. As I pulled him out, I asked him where he was going. He said, “Daddy, I am going to Coweta County!”
This column was meant to be an interview. That didn’t happen. Lynn and I just walked out on the porch of Sunset Hills Country Club for an hour on a warm March day overlooking a golf course beginning to emerge into its eventual green.
I just left my pad and pen on the table and we visited. I was curious about a lot of things like what it is like in Congress, how Congress could defeat many of Obama’s legislative goals, and the rigors of flying back and forth from D.C. to Atlanta almost every week.
Here is what I learned:
1. Common Sense – He spoke to the CCBA and me about common sense solutions to decreasing the size of the federal government and frivolous bills submitted by members to satisfy constituents. One solution would be to require every single bill to presented to a subcommittee. That way, when a useless bill, that only helps the bill’s author at home, arrives for a hearing, a plausible explanation will need to be provided. Most of these bills would be too embarrassing to present.
2. Antonin Scalia – Like me, he was hurt by the early passing of Justice Scalia. But, I wanted to know more about his judicial philosophy. He agrees with Scalia’s originalism interpretation of law. Buts adds this. Legislative intent should be added to bills passed and signed. This way, if judges disagree on what the words mean in a statute, the intent of the legislature is more readily available than now.
3. Regular west Georgian – Whether you agree or disagree with his political positions, he is very like most folks you meet in west Georgia. As we talked, I felt like I was just talking to a friend about politics, our country, and where we can go from here. He also answered patiently answered my questions and “told it like it is.”
Lastly, I had to ask about the elephant in the room; whether he will run for governor. In a nutshell, this is being considered. But, the decision will come in God’s time.
Selfishly, I hope that he seeks the governorship. If he does, the people of this great state will be in good hands. Former Congressman GA-03 Lynn Westmoreland video interview