Inside the office of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah): Justin Harding

Title: Chief of staff

Age: 36

Hometown: Cedar City, Utah

Education: B.S. from Southern Utah University

Last job: Legislative director for Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopCongress was just handed a blueprint for solving Puerto Rico’s debt crisis Does new high-profile support for Puerto Rico statehood bid increase its chances? Puerto Rico fiscal plan cuts one-third of government to save economy MORE (R-Utah)

Best thing about being chief of staff: Most definitely the view of the Rayburn “Horseshoe” from my office window (from within the nice little cubicle — holding cell — that the House Superintendent’s Office built for me) and all the extra email chiefs of staff get. I love the repeated sound of the delete button.

Management style: My basic philosophy is that if you surround yourself with the best people and give them credit for their good work, everything else will fall into place.

Most embarrassing moment on Capitol Hill: During swearing-in time many years ago, my former boss’s family was in town for all the associated events. While his family was on a visit to the office, I asked his youthful-looking son what grade he was in high school. To my great embarrassment, I learned he was in his mid-20s and most of the way through college. He’s married now and has a family of his own. He still teases me about it when we see each other. Lesson learned: Never try to estimate someone’s age based upon looks.

Interests outside of work:  My wife and I have four (soon to be five) children. Supporting them in their various endeavors happily fills most of our free time. As a family, we enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, snow skiing and traveling together.

Justin Harding never expected he would work in politics while studying small-business management and entrepreneurship at Southern Utah University.

 “I thought that I was going to stay in southern Utah and work in a family member’s business,” said the chief of staff for Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzChaplain controversy shifts spotlight to rising GOP star Ingraham’s ratings spike a wake-up for advertisers Boehner to campaign for House GOP candidates MORE (R-Utah). “I had been selling carpet and putting myself through college, and thought that was the future.”

 But a decision to switch majors to political science and an internship opportunity in Washington, D.C., with then-Rep. Jim Hansen’s (R-Utah) office steered Harding’s life in a different direction.

 “I found out later that my [then-girlfriend, now-] wife and her roommates were secretly praying that I would get the internship because she wanted me to choose a different course in life, because we were starting to get a little more serious,” he said with a laugh. “It turned out to be obviously the best decision that we’ve made.” 

Harding said his business experience serves him well in his role as chief of staff.

 “That small-business background, having worked in business and having studied in college — a lot of those principles apply in this setting,” he said.

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