ST. GEORGE – Rep. Jason Chaffetz has officially announced he will be leaving office June. 30.
Chaffetz, who has represented Utah’s 3rd Congressional District for nearly nine years, posted a letter to constituents on his congressional website Thursday afternoon announcing his resignation.
“Serving you in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly nine years has been a rare honor and privilege,” Chaffetz said in the letter. “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 said in April via Facebook that he would not be seeking reelection in 2018, adding soon after that he may not finish his current term. In his resignation letter, a part of the reason for his stepping down is due to reflection on the last 18 months, his turning 50 and the many nights spent away from family.
“My life has undergone some big changes over the last 18 months,” he said. “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.”
Chaffetz has said he will be returning to work in the private sector once he steps down. There has been speculation that the private sector may take the form of a job with the Fox New Channel.
Chaffetz letter can be read in full at the bottom of this article.
In Congress, Chaffetz currently acts as the chair of the House Oversight Committee.
Of his service on the committee, Rep. Steve Silvers, R-Ohio, the National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, said, “Jason Chaffetz has done a tremendous job as House Oversight Chairman and as a voice for voters in his district.”
As for potential replacements, Silvers said, “Republicans enjoy a talented field of prospective candidates and we’re extremely confident we’ll hold this seat in the upcoming special election.”
However, Chaffetz’s stepping down may impact the future of the committee’s investigation of President Donald Trump and his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.
Chaffetz had demanded that the FBI hand over memos and notes that ex-FBI Director James Comey reportedly compiled after meetings and phone calls with Trump.
Earlier this week, Chaffetz tweeted that he had invited Comey to testify at a hearing set for next week.
Comey was fired last week as the FBI investigates whether Trump’s presidential campaign associates had colluded with Russia to influence the outcome in his behalf.
Chaffetz vowed to get the memos Comey wrote about his meeting with Trump in which the president allegedly asked him to shut down the FBI investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“If this memo exists, I need to see it right away,” Chaffetz told The Associated Press in a phone interview earlier this week, adding, “If we need a subpoena, we’ll do it.”
Chaffetz’s resignation opens up the way for a special election for his replacement, as directed by the Constitution. Under Utah law the governor has the authority to call a special election. However, the process by which the special election would play out is rather vague.
Members of the Legislature and others want Gov. Gary Herbert to call a special election so lawmakers can iron out the process. The governor, on the other hand, has not been too keen on this idea.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the governor and legislators are butting heads because Herbert wants to allow special election candidates the opportunity to get their name on a ballot via signatures. Legislators want GOP delegates within the 3rd Congressional District to pick the nominee, or possibly appoint Chaffetz’s replacement.
“By the Constitution, this is an election,” Herbert said, as reported by the Tribune. “This is not an appointment. Therefore, the Utah voters must have access to the ballot if it’s going to be an election.”
Chaffetz’s resignation announcement can be read in full below.
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.
Associated Press reporters MICHELLE L. PRICE and BRADY McCOMBS contributed to this story.
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