House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz Will Not Seek Re-Election

The Utah lawmaker announced he would step down shortly after a Democratic challenger raised more money than him in donations.

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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.

According to news reports, Chaffetz allegedly planned to leave office on 30 June 2017 and told colleagues that “he will appear on Fox News.” We contacted his office seeking comment, but have not received a response.

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.”