House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz announced on 19 April 2017 that he would not seek re-election in 2018, but he left the door open for a return to politics.

The Utah Republican made the announcement on his Facebook page, saying:

Many of you have heard me advocate, “Get in, serve, and get out.” After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018.

For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives. I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins. I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector.

The legislator gained national attention as a critic of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He also led a committee investigation in October 2015 into allegations that Planned Parenthood illegally used federal funding to provide abortions, though he later said that the probe yielded no proof of wrongdoing.

More recently Chaffetz faced criticism from both constituents and Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee after he initially refused to investigate alleged connections between President Donald Trump, then-National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, and Russian officials.

Chaffetz was first elected in 2008 and represented his state’s heavily-Republican third congressional district. In stepping aside, he said, he hoped to allow any prospective candidates enough time to cement their campaigns. He wrote: “I have no doubt the 3rd Congressional District will be represented by a Republican.”

As of 16 April 2017, Democratic challenger Kathryn Allen had outpaced Chaffetz in fundraising by almost $400,000. Allen’s campaign reportedly saw a surge in donations after Chaffetz said Americans criticizing his party’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act should invest in their own health insurance “rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love.”

Sources:

Bendery, Jennifer.  “GOP Probe Into Planned Parenthood Funding Comes Up Empty.”  Huffington Post.  8 October 2015.

Tanner, Courtney.  “Utahns drown out Chaffetz with demand to ‘explain yourself’ at tense town hall.”  Salt Lake City Tribune.  9 February 2017.

Marcos, Christina.  “Dems Blast Chaffetz for Declining to Investigate Flynn.”  The Hill.  13 February 2017.

Tanner, Courtney.  “Viral fundraising catapults Dem over Chaffetz.”  Salt Lake City Tribune.  16 April 2017.

Shelbourne, Mallory.  “Chaffetz: Americans may need to choose between iPhone or healthcare.”  The Hill. 7 March 2017.