This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
A week after Rep. Jason Chaffetz's shocking revelation that he would not seek re-election in 2018 and might not finish the remainder of his term the congressman announced that he will be further sidelined for three to four weeks to recover from emergency foot surgery.
"I'm sorry to miss the important work we are doing in Washington," he wrote on Facebook and Instagram. "This is not an opportune time to be away but medical emergencies are never convenient."
Chaffetz hurt his foot about 12 years ago, when he fell off a ladder while working in his garage, he said. "Yes, I wish I could say I was cliff diving in Mexico," he joked.
According to the Republican congressman, he shattered several bones, requiring 14 screws and a metal plate to be installed to repair the damage. The injury forced him into bed rest and onto crutches, but even as it healed, Chaffetz already had virtually disappeared from his job as then-Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's chief of staff.
Though Chaffetz, a former Nu Skin executive, had repeated in August and September 2005 that he was happy in his post, a few weeks later he announced his departure to pursue a job in the private sector.
"I have a wife and three kids that I miss dearly," he said in October 2005. "Running a campaign and being chief of staff is a 365-day-a-year job, and I took a significant pay cut to do it."
That statement echoes what he said last week when indicating that he would not run again for his seat in Utah's 3rd Congressional District. Chaffetz said he has "no ulterior motives" in walking away, though he left the door open for a gubernatorial run in 2020.
"There's an infinite array of possibilities," he said, "but I turned 50 [years old], I'm sleeping on a cot in my office, I've been away more than 1,500 nights, and it's just time to recalibrate, to think about your life and what you're doing."
Still, Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, insisted that he would return to Congress after the foot surgery. "Absolutely. No doubt about it," he told The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday night.
The congressman is scheduled to fly home Thursday morning and go into surgery in the afternoon at University Hospital. The pain in his foot has flared up in recent months, he said, and doctors will remove the hardware to reduce risk of an infection.
"I've got an angry foot," Chaffetz said. "I will miss more than a couple of day of votes, but it's unavoidable. It has absolutely nothing to do with my other announcement. But I have to deal with it."