Huge news came out of the Republican Party today, as Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz announced he would relinquish public office once his term expires in 2018. Chaffetz, who is the chairman of the important House Oversight Committee, explained in a statement posted on his Facebook page that he was ready to return to the private sector after over a decade in public service. “I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career,” he wrote. He specified that the departure is not for health or political reasons, and that he still feels support from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
This comes as the Democratic Party was mounting a campaign to topple Chaffetz from his seat. The party was putting its support behind Kathryn Allen, a doctor who has already raised $400,000 more than Chaffetz this year. It also comes closely after Chaffetz floated the idea of running for governor of Utah late last year. Chaffetz was careful to say that he was open to returning to public office at a later date, which is in line with the next Utah governor race slated for 2020.
Chaffetz was a favorite in Republican circles during the last administration, especially as he pressed on the Secret Service’s security lapses and took the lead in investigating former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her gaffes involving a personal e-mail server. However, his stock declined steadily once Donald Trump was elected President, as Chaffetz appeared to slack off on his oversight responsibilities with a Republican in office. For example, he was notably aloof when investigation was being made into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia. He also was the subject of scrutiny when he said that uninsured American should spend their own money on health care over “getting that new iPhone.”