It’s Jason Chaffetz’s last day of work (JK! The man hasn’t done his job in ages!) in Congress. He’s served as one of Utah’s Representatives to Congress since his election as part of the Tea Party sweep of 2008. He’s been a self-serving conman, a climber and a snake in the grass whose very name has become a verb meaning “to stab a mentor in the back,” as John Hunstman told the world. Chaffetz has always been at least as equally attentive to a future in reality TV or Fox News as he has to his actual job, which, unfortunately for America, has included serving as the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which ought to have been doing some oversight of Donald Trump’s violations of the emolument’s clause.
Other things to know about him: he’s cast doubts about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, his business background is in pyramid schemes, and he wasted lots of our time and money on a useless investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of Benghazi. It’s hard to figure out really, what, has been his worst moment, but I think it was when he said he wouldn’t vote for Trump because he couldn’t look his teenage daughter in the eye after the candidate bragged about sexually assaulting women simply because he was powerful, then changed his mind. Daughter Chaffetz: I hope you never, ever let him forget what a spineless act this was.
But though I can’t see why Orrin Hatch hasn’t had Chaffetz’s political ambitions strangled much sooner than this, lots of Utahns are okay with voting for a limelight-seeking, child-exploiter–which made his decision to quit partway through his current term raise eyebrows. Did the hostile town hall meetings finally get to him? Was it my constant barrage of mail and phone calls? Theories abound, though the most likely seems to be that he’s won a deal with Fox that is more profitable, either short or long term, than finishing the work he agreed to do for the Beehive State.
Above, in the reality TV show Freshman Year, then first year Representative Jason Chaffetz shows the camera how he sleeps on a cot in his office in DC as a sign that his real home is in Utah. Now he’s quitting his job early, invalidating the votes of Utahns who thought he would live up to his commitment to do the job they elected him to do.
So, to the long list of people with every right be angry with Chaffetz (his daughter, Senator Hatch, John Hunstman, Americans who care about the Constitution, all the people NuSkin ripped off, Hillary Clinton), let’s add: all Utahns who voted for this man (and especially those who donated to his campaign), trusting that his willingness to run was a sign that he was willing to serve. Not only are Chaffetz voters not getting their money back OR their man in office, Republican delegates have been asked to make a $25 “donation” (not required but strongly encouraged) to vote in the election for his replacement.
Whoever wins Chaffetz’s spot, I’m not going to miss him, and it’s hard to imagine a representative doing less for the people he serves. Like everyone else in his life, Utah voters were just a stepping stone for Chaffetz to get to where he wants to go next.
But I will miss the ritual of calling his office and sending him mail. Perhaps it’s time to turn my attention back to one of the other junior dangers in Congress: Arkansas’ Senator Tom Cotton.