WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of a House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, is canceling an appearance at a GOP fundraiser after learning the event would feature discussion of the Benghazi attacks.
A spokesman for GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina said Monday that Gowdy was unaware that organizers of the March 19 event in Richmond, Virginia, intended to feature or even mention Benghazi.
Gowdy "has not raised money using Benghazi and will not speak about Benghazi at fundraising events," spokesman Jamal Ware said. "Having been made aware of this group's plan, he no longer will be participating in the event."
The Republican Party of Virginia is sponsoring the $75-per-ticket fundraiser, titled "Beyond Benghazi," at the Richmond Convention Center. A promotion on the party's website says the event will feature a "screening and interview" with Gowdy. Donors can pay $5,000 to serve as an event co-chair.
Gowdy said last week he is issuing a subpoena for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's personal emails as part of the panel's probe into the September 2012 attacks, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Clinton is the leading contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, although she has not declared she is running. Announcement of the subpoena came after it was disclosed that as the nation's top diplomat, Clinton relied on a personal email account rather than one operated by the government.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said using the Benghazi tragedy to raise money for partisan purposes was inappropriate.
"It appears that that the select committee has given up any pretense of a legitimate investigation, and now has just become a surrogate for the Republican National Committee," he said.
Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., who invited Gowdy to the GOP event, called the episode "unfortunate" and said Gowdy did the right thing by canceling.
"I can assure you, Trey never agreed to do a Benghazi event," he said. Griffith blamed overzealous staffers at the state party who thought the alliteration of "Beyond Benghazi" would sell tickets.
"Someone, somewhere thought that would be clever. They never checked with us," Griffith said. "Clearly, you can't raise money off Benghazi."
Follow Matthew Daly: http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC