Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz released his resignation letter today, confirming that his last day as a Member of the House will be June 30, 2017, long before his latest two-year term ends. You can read the complete letter below.
In the letter, Chaffetz tells his constituents that he is following through with his promise to not make serving in Congress a lifetime career. He has determined that nine years is enough. He also confirmed that he has sent a letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, confirming the date he leaves Congress. It’s up to Herbert to schedule a special election before the November 2018 elections to fill Chaffetz’s seat, but that has been controversial in Utah.
The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that the Utah House Republican Caucus said they might sue Herbert if he doesn’t request legislators return to Salt Lake City to pass laws on replacing Chaffetz. Herbert is considering speeding up the process to have special election campaign that runs 180 days instead of 328 days, as the existing laws state.
The 50-year-old Chaffetz, who was first elected in 2008 to represent Utah’s third Congressional District, became one of the most powerful Republicans in the House as the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. He is also on the House Judiciary Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations. Chaffetz was also a leading critic of the Obama Administration’s handling of the September 11, 2012 Benghzi attack and led the investigations into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State.
Chaffetz announced in April that he would not run for re-election in 2018 in a Facebook statement. He called it a “personal decision to return to the private sector.”
That return to the private sector will start with a job at Fox News. On May 13, The Washingtonian reported that Chaffetz is telling other House Republicans that he’s joining the network after he leaves office.
In an interview with Politico, Chaffetz said he’s had interest from companies to join boards of directors and television networks.
“I started poking around to see what I might be worth and what sort of possibilities are there,” Chaffetz told Politico. “And I got a series of ‘Let us know when you’re serious.’ Well now I can say, ‘Can you tell I am serious?’… I’ll take a little bit of time to sort out. I’d be thrilled to have a television relationship. But there’s a number of things I’d like to do.”
Chaffetz also told Politico that his decision was “absolutely not” influenced by a possible scandal.
Here is Chaffetz’s complete resignation letter to his constituents, which he posted on his website.
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.