Chaffetz to resign from Congress
- By Chase Gunter
- May 18, 2017
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) will leave Congress on June 30.
The coveted House Oversight gavel is due to change hands, as chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) steps down from Congress to become a cable TV commentator.
Chaffetz announced the news in a May 18 letter to constituents.
"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," he wrote. "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."
According to multiple press reports, Chaffetz has told his colleagues he will become a Fox News contributor upon his June 30 departure.
In April, Chaffetz, 50, announced on his personal Facebook page that he would not run for any public office in 2018, but left open that he "may run again for public office" at a later date. Utah's gubernatorial race is in 2020.
The move comes as Chaffetz is under pressure from Democrats to use his gavel to hold hearings on multiple controversies dogging President Donald Trump, including the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the Trump campaign's possible connection to Russian interests, and possible conflicts of interest arising from Trump's real estate holdings.
On May 16, Chaffetz announced the Oversight committee wanted to see a memo prepared by Comey about interactions with Trump, and tweeted that he had "his subpoena pen ready" to obtain it.
The Oversight panel plans hearing focusing on Comey's departure to be held May 24.
A House member since 2008, Chaffetz succeeded Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) as Oversight chairman in 2015, where took on myriad IT and workforce issues. He formed the Subcommittee on Information Technology, for which he tapped Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) to serve as chair.
Under Chaffetz's chairmanship, the committee's IT focus included the Office of Personnel Management breach that exposed personal information of 22 million federal employees, Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server, as well as federal legacy IT and cyber vulnerabilities at large. Chaffetz took interest in increasing federal transparency and reforming both the civil service and federal acquisition systems.
Chaffetz was a co-sponsor of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, and introduced the Inspector General Empowerment Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2016.
Committee members Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) are considered leading candidates to succeed Chaffetz. Jordan is a former chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, a group that is well-represented on the Oversight committee. Gowdy is a former prosecutor who led the special committee formed to investigate 2012 events at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Other candidates include Reps. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Steve Russell (R-Okla.). The decision ultimately will be made by the House Steering Committee, where the House speaker and the other leadership members hold sway.
Chase Gunter is a former FCW staff writer.