Rep. Chaffetz announces he’s resigning from Congress effective June 30

Posted at 9:26 AM, May 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-18 23:21:59-04

ALPINE, Utah -- Congressman Jason Chaffetz has announced he will leave office, effective June 30.

"I kinda had a little bit of a midlife crisis," he told reporters in his home on Thursday. "I turned 50, I’m sleeping on a cot, I spent more than 1,500 nights on a cot. I just happened to love my wife and adore my kids and being away is hard. It’s just really, really hard."

Chaffetz said he travels a lot and the thought of another 200 to 300 days on that cot in his office, and missing more family events is too much.

"As you kind of go forward and you see your kids graduate, get married, that’s hard," he said, choking back tears.

Chaffetz said that's why he sent a letter to Governor Gary Herbert on Thursday, announcing his resignation date.

"It also fulfills this promise I made, which is get in, serve and get out," he said.

As chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz has said he is proud of some of the inquiries that took place including Benghazi, Fast & Furious, the IRS and Hillary Clinton's emails. Asked if he leaves office with regrets, Chaffetz told FOX 13 he believes more needs to be done on the Clinton emails.

"I think the Clinton email investigation is still not complete and is of such importance to the nation," he said.

Watch Congressman Chaffetz's news conference here:

Chaffetz is leaving as investigations into President Trump heat up. Recently, he said he wanted to hold a hearing on the firing of FBI Director James Comey. On Wednesday, Chaffetz said investigations will continue without him.

"I’m not staying for any one particular investigation. We’ve completed a lot of investigations, too. There’s always something going on," he said. "There’s always a laundry list of literally hundreds of types of investigations going on."

Chaffetz held a news conference with reporters in his living room. He's home recovering from foot surgery. His wife, Julie, was next to him and their dog, Ruby, was in his lap as he spoke about his decision to resign. Chaffetz refused to discuss what he planned to do next, declining to talk about a rumored gig at FOX News Channel. He also said he would not endorse anyone to replace him in congress.

Governor Gary Herbert said Thursday he would hold a special election.

"By constitution, this is an election. This is not an appointment. Utah voters must have access to the ballot if it's going to be an election," the governor told reporters at his monthly news conference on KUED.

The governor is feuding with the legislature over the special election. Lawmakers insist they should be called into special session to decide the process. The governor claims the process was defined by past legislatures and there's no need for a special session.

"We remind the executive branch that the times, places and manner of our elections are clearly a legislative responsibility, defined in Article 1, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution," Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said in a statement. "The path forward with the least amount of legal risk would be for the governor to call a special session to allow lawmakers to add appropriate election language to the state code."

The governor said the authority rests with him.

"I believe my responsibility is to see if we have a need for a special election, that it's conducted in a manner that meets the law, the constitution and the statutes, and it's a manner that meets the expectations particularly of the voters in the third congressional district," he said.

Read the letter Congressman Chaffetz wrote to constituents:

Dear 3rd District Constituents:

Serving you in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly nine years has been a rare honor and privilege. When I first ran for Congress in 2008 I promised I would get in, serve, and get out. I told voters I did not believe Congress should be a lifetime career. I knew from day one that my service there would not last forever.

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.

Julie and I have been married for over 26 years. We have three wonderful children. Two of our children got married over the past 18 months – each having found an amazing spouse. I couldn’t be more proud of them. Our oldest son recently graduated from the University of Utah and his wife from BYU. In August, they will move out of state for law school. Our daughter, who attended UVU, married a great young man who found a terrific job two time zones away. Our youngest daughter remains at home attending high school, but soon she, too, will spread her wings and set off on her life’s path. Julie and I are facing the reality of being empty nesters. All of us, it appears, are ready to begin a new chapter.

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.

I have very much enjoyed serving, but never for a moment have I thought that I was indispensable. I know others can and should serve. The House is known as the “People’s House” because it is made up of a cross section of ordinary Americans who represent almost every walk of life - as it should be. While remaining true to my principles I have made the effort to “reach across the aisle.” I count many Democratic members as my friends. I hope whoever replaces me will do even better.

I would be remiss not to mention the great men and women who have served in my office, both in Washington and here in the District. They have worked hard to serve our constituents and have made me look good too many times to mention. I will miss our association. Their commitment and dedication remind me every day of why this nation will remain the strongest and most free in history.

I recognize that very few people get the opportunity you’ve given me; I will be forever grateful for the trust and confidence voters placed in me to serve five terms in the U.S. Congress. I have no doubt you will select a great new representative for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District. Thank you for allowing me to serve.

Best wishes,
Jason Chaffetz