Jason Chaffetz announces he won’t run for office in 2018
Wednesday s announcement capped an eventful few months for Chaffetz. In early February, he scrapped legislation to sell 3.3 million acres of federal land after a backlash from hunters and outdoors groups. Earlier this month, he held a town hall meeting during which an angry crowd criticized his tenure as Oversight chairman, among other issues. Chaffetz has faced several angry demonstrations in his district since Trump s election, but dismissed them in February as very, very small minority that is not representative of the average person, certainly not in Utah.
Protesters primary complaint is Chaffetz s unwillingness to aggressively investigate the Trump administration and the potential conflicts of interest that come with Trump s sweeping business empire. Their concern was reflected in a recent Salt Lake Tribune cartoon that depicted Trump as Jabba the Hutt, with a miniature Chaffetz sitting in his lap. The cartoon was titled: Republicans refuse to investigate Trump s shady dealings. Chaffetz was more aggressive during the Obama administration, eagerly probing the Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Hillary Clinton s private e-mail server. In the last year, he has led a movement among members of the conservative Freedom Caucus to impeach Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, whom he accused of erasing back-up tapes containing thousands of e-mails written by IRS officials in a scandal over scrutiny of conservative groups. The campaign has sputtered without support from House leadership.
The District of Columbia has been a frequent target for Chaffetz. Recently, he led the Oversight Committee in a vote to block a D.C. law allowing assisted suicide and he warned D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser not to use local tax dollars to defend illegal immigrants from deportation. He infuriated local residents when he said the District should rejoin Maryland in order to gain votes in Congress. Chaffetz has also taken a hard line on misconduct by federal employees, particularly sexual harassment, and is leading a nascent effort to overhaul the federal civil service under Trump. His first request to the Trump White House came in mid-February, when he asked the White House for information about security at Mar-a-Lago after Trump pored over documents related to North Korea on the club s outdoor terrace.
The move was interpreted as a small concession to critics, but failed to quiet them after Chaffetz said on the same day he would not investigate Trump s ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had just resigned. The situation with Flynn was taking care of itself, Chaffetz said. He eventually joined his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), to request information about Flynn s security clearance applications. A frequent face on cable news, Chaffetz is known among House Republicans for his ambition. In 2015, he launched a quixotic bid to succeed former Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) before stepping aside when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was willing to run for the position.
Chaffetz mounted his bid when Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whom he had called a good friend, was favored to win. The decision earned a swipe from former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R), who once employed Chaffetz as his campaign manager and chief-of-staff. Their relationship deteriorated after Chaffetz endorsed Mitt Romney over Huntsman in the 2012 Republican presidential primary.
McCarthy just got Chaffetzed. Something I know a little something about, Huntsman tweeted. Last year, Trump s election seemed to catch the Utah Republican off-guard. Before Nov. 8, Chaffetz told The Post he was readying years of investigations into Clinton s background and work as secretary of state. It s a target-rich environment, he said, seeming to assume Clinton would beat Trump. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain t good. It is unclear who will replace Chaffetz as Oversight chairman when he leaves Capitol Hill.
Rep. John Duncan (Tenn.) is the second-most senior Republican on the panel, but he also holds seniority on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he might prefer to claim the gavel once Rep. Bill Shuster s (R-Pa.) term as chairman ends. The next most senior Republican is Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a conservative firebrand who lost the chairmanship to Chaffetz in a four-way race in 2014. The other two candidates were Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and then-Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.).
Lisa Rein and Mike DeBonis contributed.
- ^ take a serious, serious (www.deseretnews.com)
- ^ wrote on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com)
- ^ outraised (www.sltrib.com)
- ^ suggested (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ Damian Kidd (www.sltrib.com)
- ^ Chaffetz just set some kind of record for flip-floppery (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ held a town hall meeting (www.washingtonpost.com)