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Jason Chaffetz announces date for his early departure from Congress

By Katie England daily Herald - | May 18, 2017
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After announcing that he will step down from his congressional position on June 30, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Alpine, sits with his wife, Julie, and fields questions from the press on his future plans and his legacy in Congress from his home Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Alpine. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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After announcing that he will step down from his congressional position on June 30, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Alpine, sits with his wife, Julie, and fields questions from the press on his future plans and his legacy in Congress from his home Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Alpine. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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After announcing that he will step down from his congressional position on June 30, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Alpine, sits with his wife, Julie, and fields questions from the press on his future plans and his legacy in Congress from his home Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Alpine. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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After announcing that he will step down from his congressional position on June 30, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Alpine, sits with his wife Julie and fields questions from the press on his future plans and his legacy in Congress from his home Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Alpine. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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After announcing that he will step down from his congressional position on June 30, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Alpine, sits with his wife, Julie, and fields questions from the press on his future plans and his legacy in Congress from his home Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Alpine. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Alpine, announced Thursday via letter that he will be resigning from Congress as of June 30.

Though there has been much speculation about Chaffetz’s reasons for resigning mid-term, including the possibility that he is taking a job at Fox News, he told reporters at a press conference Thursday afternoon that his overwhelming reason was because he was done with being away from his family so much.

“The reality is, as much as I like my job, I love my family,” Chaffetz said.

He said he has been considering the move since about March.

He feels no compulsion currently to talk about what he is doing after his resignation, he said, though he said he is talking to organizations to figure out what post-congressional life will look like.

Chaffetz said he would give more specifics on that as he draws closer to the “finish line.”

But he was adamant that his family, not a job offer, was what compelled him to leave Congress early.

“I made the decision to leave, then I started the process to go figure out what post-Congressional work looks like,” Chaffetz said.

In a letter addressed to his Third Congressional District constituents, Chaffetz said his life has undergone some big changes in the last 18 months, citing the fact that he and his wife, Julie, may soon be empty nesters.

After sleeping on a cot in his Washington, D.C. office for the duration of his time in Congress, Chaffetz said he decided it needed to end.

“It’s hard to convey how much you miss in your family. There’s so many birthdays and things that I’ve missed, and that’s hard,” Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz is currently less than six months into his fifth term representing Utah’s Third Congressional District, and has served as the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee since January 2015.

As chairman of that committee, Chaffetz is responsible for government oversight and investigations, including a recently-launched probe into President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

But, Chaffetz said no one particular investigation is enough to keep him in office, though he did say there were several investigations he wishes he could have finished.

“We’ve completed a lot of investigations too. So there’s always something going on. There’s always a laundry list of literally hundreds of types of investigations that are going on,” Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz won re-election to a fifth term by wide margins over his Democratic opponent in November.

In a press conference Thursday morning, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said a special election to replace Chaffetz could leave the office vacant for anywhere from two to four months.

It is a good time for him to announce his departure, Chaffetz said, because it will give those who want to seek the office time to gather signatures and gather resources to campaign for a special election.

None of the Republicans running for office should expect an endorsement from Chaffetz until a nominee has been selected, he said.

“I think there will be lots of different Republicans who will step up,” Chaffetz said. “And there are a lot of good, quality people who can do this job. I’m not the only one who can do this job.”

Chaffetz, who was first elected to Congress in 2008, had previously announced April 19 that he would not be running for re-election in 2018. At that time, he said he intended to return to the private sector, though he did not rule out running for public office again at some point.

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