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Rolly: What do Chaffetz and a disgraced deputy fuhrer have in common? Think suck-up, not Nazi

Published January 24, 2017 8:34 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In 1941, Germany's Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess commandeered a small plane without permission and flew to Scotland, where he hoped to negotiate a peace settlement with Great Britain, which he thought would surrender, and become a hero to Adolf Hitler.

He devised the plan because he feared he was losing favor with Hitler, who was listening more and more to the advice of other top Nazis. Hess wanted to do something dramatic to show his devotion to the German leader.

That brings us to Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Not the Nazi part; I'm not suggesting any comparison there. No, the line connecting the Utah Republican to Hess has to do with the sycophant angle.

Like Hess, Chaffetz has shown an unyielding devotion to the person holding the type of power that can advance his career. As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he refuses to investigate potential conflicts of interest of President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, he has shown a bizarre obsession with Hillary Clinton, Trump's main election rival and a former secretary of state.

She is the enemy, after all. She's a Democrat. And Chaffetz wants to find something in her emails that might incriminate her and other Democrats.

At the same time, he sees nothing to investigate concerning the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia hacked Clinton's emails in a blatant attempt to swing the election to Trump.

Since becoming head of the oversight panel, Chaffetz has been a partisan advocate of Republican leaders and conservative causes while acting as a fierce bomb thrower at anything Democratic or liberal. It's as though he's sitting on the dais during congressional hearings shouting, "Look at me, Republicans. Look at me."

He has become not only the Salem witch hunt leader of the Clinton persecution, but he also went after the leader of Planned Parenthood, the scourge of Christian conservatives, in such a ridiculous manner he became a national laughingstock. When the appointed managers of Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder switched the water source to the city of Flint to save money, causing a severe health hazard after high levels of lead showed up in the water, Chaffetz's committee called a hearing.

But to Chaffetz, it wasn't the fault of the state's GOP government brass. No, the blame rested on the Obama administration for a lack of oversight.

Chaffetz even had on his committee's website a wanted-list display showing all the Obama officials who had resigned or retired because he went after them.

"Look at me, Republicans. Look at me."

Such antics might not be as dramatic as commandeering a plane, flying into enemy turf and trying to negotiate a peace deal, but, hey, you take the opportunities that you are afforded.

Unlike Hess, a Hitler flunky from the start, Chaffetz's devotion shifts with the winds of power. He wasn't always a Trump devotee. But when Trump won the White House, Chaffetz became his No. 1 fan.

Chaffetz joined the House the same year Barack Obama began his presidency, and the Republicans vowed to do everything they could to make him a one-term president. They also wanted to embarrass the Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House.

Then-Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., devised a plan in which GOP members of Congress would stand and shout "point of order" every time a Democrat began to speak. The idea was to rattle their rivals and make them stutter and look stupid.

Chaffetz was an enthusiastic backer of the plan, often making a fool of himself by repeating "point of order" and being ignored by the Democratic speakers.

"Look at me, Republicans. Look at me."

In the end, it didn't go well for Hess. He was arrested in Great Britain and held there until the war ended in 1945. He then was transferred to Spandau Prison in Germany and remained there until he died in 1987.

And his hero Hitler? He denounced what Hess did and called him a madman.

As for Chaffetz, we'll see how far his partisan tactics go before a backlash breaks out.

Clarification • My column Friday noted a number of quasi-governmental agencies that, due to a lack of adequate oversight, were found by audits to have serious problems, including embezzlement, misuse of public funds, inflated expense reports, nepotism and failure to pay taxes.

I lumped into that group the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, which has objected that it is not quasi-government but rather an agency created by the Legislature that must adhere to the same regulations and oversight of any such group.

USTAR was the subject of a critical legislative audit in 2013. State Auditor John Dougall said while it is different than a quasi-governmental institution, it ran into problems because it lacked visibility. Also, because it was a pet project of the Legislature, there wasn't the oversight it should have had.

USTAR did not have the problems of the other agencies mentioned such as embezzlement and inflated expense reports. But it was criticized for inflating its success in using research dollars to create startup businesses. It also was dinged for failing to follow Utah's open-meetings law.







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