He said he got a call from Chaffetz Tuesday night about his plans.
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File).
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, startled constituents and fellow lawmakers Wednesday by announcing he will not seek re-election.
As the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz has come under fire for not investigating President Donald Trump's possible conflicts of interests, and pursuing investigations of Hillary Clinton, becoming a target of the anti-Trump movement.
On Capitol Hill, Mr. Chaffetz has shown an opportunistic streak, often rushing toward television cameras with an eager smile. If Chaffetz no longer has a political opponent in the White House, maybe he sees no point in remaining on the Oversight Committee. Chaffetz, a Republican who chairs the House Over.
During the raucous 2016 presidential campaign that pitted Clinton against Trump, Chaffetz distanced himself from the Republican candidate following the public airing of a video a year ago in which Trump made lewd comments about women. This was hammered at home for Chaffetz in February at a town hall meeting where he was booed and told "do your job" after saying his committee would not investigate Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
"For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives", he said.
While Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he is leaving Congress for the private sector, he did not rule out a future bid for office.
If he were to run for governor in 2020, he could face Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, Josh Romney and Salt Lake County Ben McAdams (who would be on the Democratic side of that race).
Democrats championed Chaffetz announcement, saying "Chaffetz' behavior has always been beneath the dignity of the office he holds". A month later, he touched off fresh anger by suggesting people should spend their money on health insurance instead of iPhones.
Even before Chaffetz announced his abrupt exit, his political luck had suffered a steep decline when Trump was elected.
When Chaffetz told the house speaker his decision, Ryan begged the Utah congressman to change his mind. The comparison prompted scorn and criticism for Chaffetz and Republicans as they promoted a bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.
The domains were secured by Chaffetz's campaign arm on April 6.
His decision to make the Wednesday announcement, he says, was to give prospective candidates in Utah "time to lay the groundwork for a successful run".
Hughes and Wright didn't return messages. After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. And Chaffetz has always, reportedly, had an eye on higher office, likely replacing Orrin Hatch in the Senate. Rumors he may run for the governor of his native state in 2020 are still circulating.
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