As recently as November, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) asked voters in Utah’s 3rd congressional district to send him back to Congress for another two-year term. It was around the same time that the Utah Republican told
the Washington Post
that he was eagerly looking forward to overseeing “years” of congressional oversight hearings.
But then something changed. Just three months into the new Congress, Chaffetz announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. Yesterday, he went further, announcing that he’ll resign
from the House altogether on June 30.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, announced Thursday he will leave Congress at the end of next month. […]
The Utah Republican announced last month he would not seek re-election in 2018. He cited time away from home and his willingness to return to the private sector as reasons why he made the decision.
Chaffetz hasn’t said what his next steps will be, though there are rumors that he’s eyeing a job at Fox News.
But as the GOP lawmaker prepares to walk away from Capitol Hill after nearly eight years in Congress, it’s hard not to wonder what prompted Chaffetz to change the direction of his career so dramatically. He does, after all, have a powerful post and a high-profile position. Why would a lawmaker start the year raring to go, only to very quickly thereafter decide to quit?
It’s possible that family pressures forced the congressman to make personal reevaluations. Maybe Chaffetz was worried a bit about his re-election prospects in the wake of some unpleasant town-hall gatherings in his ruby-red district. Perhaps he’s preparing for a gubernatorial campaign in Utah, and sees value in returning to his home state while putting some distance between himself and an unpopular Congress. It’s also possible he just wants to cash in on his current position.
Or maybe Chaffetz, who has the oversight authority to examine Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, saw some evidence that led him to believe the controversy is going to be explosive, and he determined he’d be better off staying as far away from the matter as possible.
After all, if Chaffetz stuck around, he’d be under enormous pressure to take the scandal seriously and examine it in detail. And if he held hearings that produced evidence that damaged Trump, there’s no real upside in conservative politics for being a Republican congressman who undermines a Republican president.