Chaffetz announces decision on re-election run

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“After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Chaffetz, 50, won election to the House in 2008 after serving as campaign manager and chief of staff for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. When John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his retirement in 2015, Chaffetz attempted to take his place as Speaker of the House but halted efforts to allow Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to take the spot.

Chaffetz has been House Oversight Committee chairman since 2015. If he’d chosen to stay in Congress, he would have headed the committee until 2020, according to term limits put in place by the House GOP.

Chaffetz doesn’t wish to overextend his time on office. In the post, he says, “I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career.”

As chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz was a key player in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s inappropriate use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. In July 2016, he was one of the members questioning FBI director James Comey in his decision to not charge Clinton for the crime.

In October 2016, just prior to the presidential election, he announced that there would be further investigation of the emails after receiving new information from Comey.

In March of this year, he was still trying to get the State Department to turn over some 30,000 additional documents. He expects the investigation to last into 2018 as the State Department has been “dreadfully slow” in complying.

“We need to understand the gravity of this. There is a reason the State Department, years after, is still holding off on giving us documents,” Chaffetz told Fox News in March. “The more they want to hold them, the more curious we are on what’s in them. Agencies like to brag about how many thousands of documents they’ve given us, but it’s not about the count — it’s about getting 100 percent of them.”

Although Chaffetz was considered a potential candidate for Senate or Utah governor, he says it won’t happen in 2018. He clarified that he “may run again for public office, but not in 2018.” Utah Republican governor, Gary Herbert’s time as governor will end in 2020.

“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,” Chaffetz said.

Although Chaffetz’s seat is “considered safely Republican,” long-shot Democratic challenger, Kathryn Allen’s campaign raised almost $400,000 more than Chaffetz’s in March.

Chaffetz has had a tough time with critics lately. He was criticized for accusing attendees at a town hall in February of being “a paid attempt to bully and intimidate” him. The same held true when supporting the House GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill and suggesting that some Americans might have to put saving for healthcare coverage above “that new iPhone.”

According to Utah

52% of Chaffetz’s constituents in the 3rd Congressional District view him favorably, which is a far cry from the 73.5% he got just last November in the 2016 election. The latest number is also a 14-point drop from a similar survey conducted last February.

Chaffetz has also taken heat for not investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s connections with Russia and for not looking into the potential business profit President Trump stands to gain from his presidency. Chaffetz has said Trump is “already rich.”

He didn’t always support Trump. During the 2016 election, Chaffetz showed no support for then-GOP nominee Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tape release. When Trump’s remarks were made public, Chaffetz said he is unable to discuss them with his 15-year-old daughter as they were “some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine.”

A few weeks later, Chaffetz said he would be voting for Trump but couldn’t defend the comments, nor formally endorse him.

Closing out his comments on Facebook today, Chaffetz said, “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.”

H/T: The Hill

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