This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Old habits die hard.
For Rep. Jason Chaffetz, old habits that got him in trouble as the governor's self-appointed guardian in Utah are manifesting themselves again as his profile rises on the national stage.
The Utah Republican wasn't the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for a week before he sparked controversy by removing portraits of former committee leaders in favor of art depicting images of Americana.
It seems that we have seen this "Jason the Powerful" movie before.
When Chaffetz took the panel's reins, he made it clear that his leadership would be different from that of his predecessor, Rep. Darrell Issa, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The California Republican had a reputation for extreme partisanship, not allowing time for committee members to speak and exhibiting rude behavior toward witnesses.
Before he removed the portraits, including Issa's, Chaffetz dumped 60 percent of Issa's staffers, replacing them with his own. The "new-boss-in-town" message was loud and clear.
And if Chaffetz is being accused of letting his newfound power go to his head, just hark back a decade ago to his stint in Utah government.
Chaffetz fell into the chief-of-staff position under then-Gov. Jon Huntsman almost by accident. He had left a sales job with the multilevel marketer Nu Skin in 2004 to be the press liaison for the Huntsman campaign. The campaign manager abruptly resigned. So Chaffetz was promoted to that job, even though his only previous experience in political campaigns was as Utah co-chairman of Democrat Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign in 1988.
It was one of those Peter Sellers' "Being There" moments for Chaffetz. A Huntsman victory was practically guaranteed, so Chaffetz success was all but certain. His work as campaign manager earned him the lofty role as the governor's chief of staff.
Chaffetz's first real public action was to gather a number of veteran employees of the governor's economic-development office into a room and fire them. He had them escorted out by armed guards.
Huntsman took some heat, but administration officials blamed Chaffetz for how the shake-up went down.
Chaffetz quickly earned a reputation as a jealous guardian of the governor's time, often telling legislative leaders who wanted an audience with Huntsman that they must talk to him instead.
More than one critic complained that Chaffetz seemed to think he was the governor.
Chaffetz left the job well-before Huntsman's first term ended amid rumors that fellow staffers wanted him and his power plays gone.
So now that his star is rising in Congress, it's déjà vu.