On Wednesday morning a shocking story was breaking, as Buzzfeed reported that Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was retiring and would not be seeking reelection in 2018.
Chaffetz is still a “young” 50 years old, and will have “only” served in Congress for 10 years by the time 2018 rolls around, but he says his time has come.
He officially made his announcement in a letter to his constituents posted on his Facebook page, several hours after the Buzzfeed story broke.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Representative in the United States House of Representatives. Serving is an honor and a privilege that I have never taken for granted.
After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018.
Since late 2003 I have been fully engaged with politics as a campaign manager, a chief of staff, a candidate and as a Member of Congress. I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career. Many of you have heard me advocate, “Get in, serve, and get out.” After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018.
For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives. I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins. I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector.
I am grateful for all of you in the current and previous 3rd Congressional District. I acknowledge the outstanding work of my dedicated staff. Together we have been a strong advocate for Utahns.
By announcing now, I hope to give prospective candidates time to lay the groundwork for a successful run. I have no doubt the 3rd Congressional District will be represented by a Republican. I trust you to find the best person to serve.
While Chaffetz takes great pains to make it clear that he’ll be returning to the private sector, some pundits believe that he’s simply preparing to enter the race to be Utah’s next Governor in 2018. There is also some speculation that Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who has announced his plan to run again in 2018 (when he’d be 84 years old) but could be persuaded to step aside for Chaffetz.
But then this morning, everything took a very strange turn when Chaffetz said that he might leave his position even earlier than he originally said. Chaffetz told radio show host Doug Wright that he might not finish his term:
KSL Radio host Doug Wright quoted Chaffetz as saying during an interview earlier on his show that he’s not sure if he’ll finish out the current term in the House.
“I will continue to weigh the options but I might depart early,” Chaffetz said, as relayed by Wright.”
— KSL Newsradio (@kslnewsradio) April 20, 2017
But then things got even weirder when rumors began circulating that Chaffetz was planning to quit as early as TOMORROW.
Report: Jason Chaffetz expected to resign as early as tomorrow
— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) April 20, 2017
The whole situation is highly unusual, and while on Wednesday Chaffetz said that he has no ulterior motives for leaving office his comments just don’t pass the smell test. Could there be a scandal percolating just beneath the surface? Keep an eye on this, because there is probably much more to this story.