Jason Chaffetz announces early retirement from Congress

The House Oversight Committee Chairman says he'll be leaving D.C. in June

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published May 18, 2017 3:38PM (EDT)

 (Reuters/Gary Cameron/Getty)
(Reuters/Gary Cameron/Getty)

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the Republican House Oversight Committee chairman who shocked the world with his unexpected retirement announcement last month, made another surprise announcement on Thursday: He will resign from his congressional seat before his term expires in 2019.

"This week I sent a letter to [Utah] Governor [Gary] Herbert indicating my intention to resign from Congress effective June 30, 2017," Chaffetz wrote in a statement. "[A]s I celebrated my 50th birthday in March, the reality of spending more than 1,500 nights away from my family over eight years hit me harder than it had before." Chaffetz also told constituents, "We feel my time in congress has been well spent, but it now seems the right time to turn the page."

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According to a report by Politico ahead of Chaffetz' announcement, the Utah Republican told colleagues he plans on appearing on Fox News frequently and that he has already begun looking into employment opportunities outside of Congress.

Thursday's surprise announcement comes shortly after the Republican leader subpoenaed memos of former FBI Director James Comey, who is expected to testify before the Oversight Committee next week. It also occurs on the same day that Chaffetz appeared on NBC's "Today" and, when asked if President Donald Trump should have hired former national security adviser Michael Flynn, conceded that he "probably shouldn't have."

As Chaffetz told NBC's viewers, "You can argue that he probably shouldn't. And maybe, in retrospect, knowing what we know now, he probably shouldn't have, but nevertheless he did hire him, and he was there for just over three weeks and then he did dismiss him."

Chaffetz has long been a figure of controversy due to the perception that he has not adequately focused on the scandals surrounding Trump's administration. During a town hall meeting in February, Chaffetz was greeted by chants of "Do your job!" from audience members outraged at his lack of attention on Trump-related scandals.

In a little more than six weeks, it simply won't be his job anymore.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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