The whispers were apparently all true, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) will retire early and step out of the political spotlight.
The possibility has been an open secret in D.C. circles for about a month now and has had many wondering if there was something more nefarious at play. Chaffetz’ resignation comes at a moment when tensions are high in D.C. and many are wondering if there are more scandals waiting to reveal themselves.
For his part, Chaffetz continues to tell everyone that he is simply making the decision because it is time for him to step down and seek other opportunities.
Serving you in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly nine years has been a rare honor and privilege. When I first ran for Congress in 2008 I promised I would get in, serve, and get out. I told voters I did not believe Congress should be a lifetime career. I knew from day one that my service there would not last forever.”
Chaffetz is rumored to have a deal in place to join Fox News in a “substantial” role come July and that has likely played an important role in the timing of his resignation.
Whatever the reasons, Chaffetz’ departure will leave a hole in the GOP leadership structure. Chaffetz is an experienced investigator and a dogged prosecutor, he was personally mentored by the previous Oversight chairman Darrell Issa, and his tenacity and intelligence will be missed.
Chaffetz said goodbye in a letter to his constituents in Utah’s 3rd District:
Dear 3rd District Constituents:
Serving you in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly nine years has been a rare honor and privilege. When I first ran for Congress in 2008 I promised I would get in, serve, and get out. I told voters I did not believe Congress should be a lifetime career. I knew from day one that my service there would not last forever.
As you know, after careful consideration and long discussion with my wife, Julie, we agree the time has come for us to move on from this part of our life. This week I sent a letter to Governor Herbert indicating my intention to resign from Congress effective June 30, 2017.
My life has undergone some big changes over the last 18 months. Those changes have been good. But as I celebrated my 50th birthday in March, the reality of spending more than 1,500 nights away from my family over eight years hit me harder than it had before.
Julie and I have been married for over 26 years. We have three wonderful children. Two of our children got married over the past 18 months – each having found an amazing spouse. I couldn’t be more proud of them. Our oldest son recently graduated from the University of Utah and his wife from BYU. In August, they will move out of state for law school. Our daughter, who attended UVU, married a great young man who found a terrific job two time zones away. Our youngest daughter remains at home attending high school, but soon she, too, will spread her wings and set off on her life’s path. Julie and I are facing the reality of being empty nesters. All of us, it appears, are ready to begin a new chapter.
I’ve slept on a cot in my office largely to save money for the Chaffetz family, but also to remind myself that my service there was temporary. Though the time away and the travel have been a sacrifice, our family has always been united that public service was the right thing to do. We feel my time in congress has been well spent, but it now seems the right time to turn the page.
I have very much enjoyed serving, but never for a moment have I thought that I was indispensable. I know others can and should serve. The House is known as the “People’s House” because it is made up of a cross section of ordinary Americans who represent almost every walk of life – as it should be. While remaining true to my principles I have made the effort to “reach across the aisle.” I count many Democratic members as my friends. I hope whoever replaces me will do even better.
I would be remiss not to mention the great men and women who have served in my office, both in Washington and here in the District. They have worked hard to serve our constituents and have made me look good too many times to mention. I will miss our association. Their commitment and dedication remind me every day of why this nation will remain the strongest and most free in history.
I recognize that very few people get the opportunity you’ve given me; I will be forever grateful for the trust and confidence voters placed in me to serve five terms in the U.S. Congress. I have no doubt you will select a great new representative for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District. Thank you for allowing me to serve.