This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz is leaving Congress on June 30, he says, because he wants to spend more time with his family.
"I knew from Day One that my service there would not last forever," Chaffetz said in a letter to constituents.
His abrupt decision to not run for re-election, followed by the announcement that he was resigning early, has befuddled some Utah residents and political watchers. After all, he was just elected to a fifth term in November.
There could be several reasons Chaffetz made the move that he's not publicly saying.
No way to win • Chaffetz, as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is charged with investigating wrongdoing across the federal government, a job he relished when President Barack Obama was in office. But that gig has become a challenge now that President Donald Trump is in the White House.
As a fellow Republican, Chaffetz either had to launch probes into Trump's conduct alienating a core GOP base Chaffetz needs or look like a lapdog unwilling to put country over party.
By leaving office, and the chairmanship, Chaffetz is no longer in the untenable spot.
Follow the money • Chaffetz worked in the private sector for the first part of his career before running Jon Huntsman's gubernatorial campaign and later serving as his chief of staff. He joined Congress in 2009. And while Chaffetz is probably better off financially than many Utahns, he's not as rich as many of his House counterparts. Chaffetz's average net worth hovers around $500,000, while the House average is $6.8 million. By shifting to the private sector, Chaffetz could rake in a lot more money than staying in Congress.
Higher aspirations • Chaffetz has ruled out running for any seat in 2018 ruling out a potential bid against Sen. Orrin Hatch but he's left open the possibility of running for Utah governor in 2020. Gov. Gary Herbert isn't likely to seek re-election but there are others eyeing the spot, including Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and businessman Josh Romney. Returning to Utah, Chaffetz would have more time to spend gearing up for a race for the governor's office.
Scandal-less • While there are plenty of rumors flying around about Chaffetz leaving for some unsavory reason, no evidence has emerged. Chaffetz has said unequivocally that there's nothing there. "I have had more enemas about my background than just about anybody, so absolutely, positively no. That's ridiculous. No way, shape or form," he said.
The cot • Chaffetz said he's tired of traveling back and forth to Washington and sleeping on a cot in his office (which he does to save personal money) and that may be a driving force. While most members of Congress rent an apartment, buy a home or grab a spot in a group house, Chaffetz opted to join growing numbers of members who bed down in their congressional offices. It's certainly not a glamorous life sleeping in a workspace, showering in the House gym and he gets to leave that behind when he departs Congress.