Those who enter the political arena deserve scrutiny but also thanks for being willing to serve.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz has asked people to take him at his word for why he will not seek a sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. He may also resign his seat early, he said, because he wants to spend more time with his family.
Politics and intrigue tend to go together, so it is tempting to speculate about alternative reasons or motivations, especially when Chaffetz hints he may seek political office again in the future. But absent any evidence to the contrary, Utahns should grant that a life split between home in Utah’s third congressional district and a cot in an office in Washington is taxing on family life.
They also should put politics aside and thank him for his service, as do we.
Utah has a tradition of representation in Washington whose breadth of influence far outweighs the state’s population and geographic remoteness. Regardless whether you agree with Chaffetz’ policies, public statements or votes, it is undeniable that he has become a well-known national figure.
Part of that comes with the chairmanship of the influential House Oversight Committee. Also, he is known, for better or worse, for his cable-ready personality, and the ease with which he conducts television and media interviews.
Consequently, for nearly a decade Chaffetz has been a mainstay of Utah political life. Yet, he also has been a lightning rod. He’s taken political heat in recent weeks for insinuating that Americans may need to choose between the latest iPhone or buying health insurance, and he led contentious hearings involving Planned Parenthood and Hillary Clinton. He has been criticized, in town hall meetings and elsewhere, by those who feel he should take a greater role in investigating President Trump.
Clearly, Chaffetz is unafraid of criticism, which has added fuel to the speculations as to why he made this announcement nearly two years before his term ends.