Chaffetz considering early departure from Congress

Greg Nash

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who stunned Washington with an announcement that he is not running for reelection, might not even finish his remaining term.

Chaffetz told KSL News Radio’s Doug Wright that he may not finish out his full term through 2018. But he said he’s still debating the decision amid uncertainty over how Utah would establish a process to replace him early.

“I will continue to weigh the options, but I might depart early,” Chaffetz told the Utah radio host on Thursday.

{mosads}Chaffetz later told Politico that he is considering private sector jobs, including boards of directors and television contracts. 

“I started poking around to see what I might be worth and what sort of possibilities are there,” Chaffetz said. “And I got a series of ‘Let us know when you’re serious.’ Well now I can say, ‘Can you tell I am serious?'”

Chaffetz told Politico he’s looking at a “number of things,” adding that he’d “be thrilled to have a television relationship.”

Chaffetz on Wednesday announced he wouldn’t be on the ballot in 2018, either for a sixth term in the House or a bid for Senate, citing a desire to spend more time with his family in Utah and return to the private sector

He didn’t rule out another bid for public office in the future, such as a run for Utah governor in 2020.

Despite speculation about the reasons for his departure, Chaffetz told Politico there’s no hidden scandal forcing his hand.

“Not in any way shape or form,” he said. “I’ve been given more enemas by more people over the last eight years than you can possibly imagine. From the Secret Service to the Democratic Party. I am who I am. If they had something really scandalous, it would’ve come out a long, long time ago.”

He said making his departure announcement early will let him “see what is out there” and pursue other options. 

And it “gives potential candidates for my seat time to gear up in terms of money, policy and building a grassroots organization,” he said. “And I’m just being candid with people.”

His departure is all the more unusual given that the 2018 midterm elections are still 19 months away and that he’s one of the most ambitious and high-profile committee chairmen on Capitol Hill.

Had Chaffetz chosen to stay in Congress, he could have served as Oversight chairman through 2020 under the House GOP’s rules that limit members to three terms atop committees. 

An early departure would also set in motion a race to succeed Chaffetz on the powerful committee. Aides to Oversight Committee members declined to say Wednesday if they were interested in running for the chairmanship.

John Bowden contributed. 

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