Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced Thursday he would retire early and not finish out his current term of office. Chaffetz made the announcement in a press release posted on his website:
As you know, after careful consideration and long discussion with my wife, Julie, we agree the time has come for us to move on from this part of our life. This week I sent a letter to Governor Herbert indicating my intention to resign from Congress effective June 30, 2017.
My life has undergone some big changes over the last 18 months. Those changes have been good. But as 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…
I’ve slept on a cot in my office largely to save money for the Chaffetz family, but also to remind myself that my service there was temporary. Though the time away and the travel have been a sacrifice, our family has always been united that public service was the right thing to do. We feel my time in congress has been well spent, but it now seems the right time to turn the page.
The only explanation for the decision given in the statement is that Chaffetz’ family has been undergoing changes recently including his adult children’s new marriages in the past 18 months.
Word that Chaffetz might be leaving first broke about one month ago. Chaffetz announced on Facebook in April that he would not be running for reelection in 2018. He wrote at the time, “let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives.” He continued, “I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins…That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector.”
In an interview with KSL.com later the same day (April 19th) Chaffetz indicated that he might not even finish out his current term. He did say he planned to stay involved in politics in some way related to communications. Asked if he might be considering a job with Fox News, Chaffetz declined to say. “Look, none of that can come to fruition until you actually go forward and make this announcement,” Chaffetz told KSL. He added, “This is the first step.”
Honestly, I’ve been wondering if another shoe was about to drop in this story since last month. There’s a reason that a politician ‘deciding to spend more time with his family’ has become a euphemism for a disgraced exit from the public stage. But if there are rumors circulating about Chaffetz in Washington, D.C. I’m not hearing them out here in California.
Earlier today Politico reported sources on Capitol Hill believe Chaffetz is preparing to take a job with Fox News. So maybe it really is that simple for once. If that is the case then Chaffetz deserves some kudos for making a decision few politicians make unless forced to do so. One thing about Washington is that secrets usually don’t stay secret for long. So if there is another explanation for his departure we’ll probably hear about it soon.