Jason Chaffetz is my congressman. That is to say, he represents the Utah Third Congressional District, which happens to be the one I live in. I’m not proud of that fact. I have never voted for him, and can’t imagine a circumstance in which I would.
I think he’s kind of a weasel. I mean, look at him; he looks like a rodent. I fully admit, though, that my reasons for disliking him are entirely political and partisan. I am a liberal Democrat. If he were a Democrat, I would undoubtedly find him quite good looking.
Other reasons for me to like him. He’s a former BYU football player; I mean, a kicker, but still. He and I both graduated from BYU. His wife works with women with breast cancer, an admirable avocation. We’re both LDS. When he was elected to Congress, he decided to save money by sleeping in a cot in his office, Washington apartments being insanely expensive. When Stephen Colbert did his ‘Better Know a District’ routine (on his old show), Chaffetz not only agreed to be featured, but even leg wrestled Colbert. Chaffetz even agreed to appear on the Rachel Maddow show. Oh, he opposed Donald Trump’s candidacy. For about ten minutes. Then fell in line. And that about does it for positives.
Other than that, he’s pretty awful. For one thing, he’s a climate change denier. He’s an anti-vaxxer; wants to hold hearings on whether vaccinations cause autism. (Not really necessary, Jason, on account of this thing called peer reviewed, double blind scientific research). He opposed the Affordable Care Act, opposes net neutrality, hates Planned Parenthood, opposed marriage equality. As chair of the House Oversight committee, he wasted hundreds of hours and millions of dollars in a long, pointless, endless investigation of Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.
He’s an ambitious guy. He toyed with the idea of running for Speaker of the House, when John Boehner stepped down. He backed down when Paul Ryan threw his hat in the ring. (Or, more accurately, when Paul Ryan’s hat was ripped off his head and thrown in the ring for him).
Which is why it was such a shocker when Chaffetz announced that he would not run for re-election in 2018. And then, the next day, announced that he might even quit now, and not serve out the rest of his term.
On the one hand, I’m thrilled. I don’t like him, don’t like being represented by him, and am delighted to be quit of him.
On the other hand: what? Why? I mean, my gosh. What on earth?
I love real-life mysteries. Most people do, I think. And this is a corker. What’s going on? What’s the scoop? Why would this reasonably young, extremely ambitious politician just up and quit? In his statement, he offered the usual malarkey about wanting to spend more time with his family, which no one believes. He also tweeted, which didn’t help at all. It was a link to a puff-piece article about his wife, and how wonderful she is. My first reaction to that is to think that he must have done something really bad.
Anyway, the inter-tubes have been full of speculation about the whole thing, to which I thought I’d toss in my two cents. So here are the leading rumors.
He’s planning to run for governor of Utah, in 2020. Our governor, Gary Herbert, has already announced he won’t run for re-election. Chaffetz may be angling for the job, maybe as a prelude for a run for President in 2024. Could be, though why quit? He could run for governor while still a Congressman.
He really, genuinely, wants to make some serious dough. He’s got a lobbyist job lined up, and this is his chance to cash in big-time. That makes some sense.
He likes the investigative power of his House chairmanship. He was really looking forward to spending the next four years going after Hillary. But she lost, and suddenly he’s being pressured (by constituents, no less), to go after Trump’s many and varied conflicts of interest. That doesn’t sound like it’d be any fun at all. So he wants out.
He’s done something really really naughty. Woman troubles, or Russian blackmail, or something equally egregious, and he’s trying to get out from under it. The ‘my wife’s so wonderful’ tweet would suggest this. Maybe he thinks investigators won’t go after him so hard if he’s out of Congress.
He’s got a gig waiting for him at Faux News. That one seems kind of nuts, but the timing works. After all, it felt like Christmas in April when both Bill O’Reilly AND Jason Chaffetz left on the same day. O’Reilly’s replacement is Tucker Carlson, but he already had a Fox show. Chaffetz would be replacing the guy who replaces O’Reilly. A lot more money, and exposure, for a possible Presidential run.
Or (and I’m going to feel terrible if this turns out to be it), there really is some serious problem with his family. He genuinely needs to be home, to help deal with his son/daughter/wife. If so, I’m completely wrong about the guy. Which isn’t at all unlikely.
What I do not believe is that he just decided to quit. There’s something going on. There’s more to this story. Can’t wait to see what it is.