Jason Chaffetz Won’t Seek Re-Election: ‘I Will Not Be A Candidate’ In 2018

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

The Republican chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced Wednesday that he would not seek another term in 2018.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) made the announcement in a statement on his personal Facebook page:

In an interview with the Deseret News In January 2016, Chaffetz hinted at his future plans.

“I’m not going to be here forever. I would take a serious, serious look at running for governor,” he told the publication. “I want to go as hard and fast as I can in the House and then go home.”

“The more I’m here, the more I’m convinced I don’t want to be in the United States Senate,” he added. “I’ve already invested years in the House and it’s essentially the same job, just more people over here and more competition.”

In the days leading up to Election Day 2016, Chaffetz tied himself in knots explaining that his vote for Donald Trump did not contradict his un-endorsing the then-Republican nominee a month earlier.

The congressman was one of many Republican officials who disavowed Trump after a tape leaked of Trump saying that he could kiss and grope women without their permission because he was a celebrity.

“My wife and I, we have a 15-year-old daughter, and if I can’t look her in the eye and tell her these things, I can’t endorse this person,” he said on Oct. 7, after the tape dropped.

A few weeks later, though, he said he would still be voting for Trump.

“I guess I do see a difference between an endorsement and publicly defending somebody,” he said on Nov. 3.

After Trump’s election, Chaffetz has faced criticism in his capacity as Oversight chair.

He defended Trump, for example, after the President attacked Nordstrom online after it dropped his daughter’s clothing line from stores, seen as an abuse of his bully pulpit for familial financial gain.

A day earlier, Chaffetz recalled of a meeting with the President: “Before my bum even hit the chair, the president said, ‘No oversight. You can’t talk about anything that has to do with oversight.’”

In January, he said he would not go on a “fishing expedition” for possible ethics violations resulting from Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel, whose lease is owned by the federal government.

“The President has a duty and obligation to comply with the law, but again he’s exempt from almost all of these things,” Chaffetz said. “Now the Emoluments Clause, he’s going to have to look at, and we’ll see how that rolls out.”

Chaffetz had gone even further a few days earlier, demanding that the director of the Office of Government Ethics be interviewed by the Oversight Committee for a series of tweets about Trump divesting from his businesses (the then-President-elect had not done so at the time, and still hasn’t).

The OGE director, Chaffetz wrote, was “blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance.”

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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