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Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz To Leave Office At The End Of June

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, says he will leave office on June 30.
Chip Somodevilla
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House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, says he will leave office on June 30.

Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he will resign his congressional seat effective June 30. He first made the announcement in a statement on his website, ending weeks of speculation about his plans.

Chaffetz talked to reporters about his decision from his home in Alpine, Utah, later Thursday. Sitting next to his wife, Julie, and their dog, Ruby, Chaffetz said after nearly eight in years in Congress, he wanted a change.

"I think I'll actually miss the chaos; I kind of thrive in that," he said. "But when you like what you do and you enjoy your job, but you love your family, at some point you have to make a choice, and I just choose my family much more than I do my life in Congress."

The congressman is recovering from foot surgery, which has kept him mostly homebound for the past few weeks. He said the experience has allowed him to reconnect with his wife and youngest daughter, who is finishing her sophomore year in high school.

Chaffetz would not discuss his next career move, which some have speculated might include a cable news gig, but he said he planned to keep his residence in Utah.

"I want to still have a voice," he said of whether he would stay involved in politics. "In large part, I'm still putting that together. You can't really finalize things until you actually leave."

Chaffetz previously has not ruled out another run for public office at some point in the future. His campaign registered the Web domains and in early April.

The 50-year-old Republican announced last month he would not seek a sixth term in 2018, surprising many in Congress and even his inner circle.

Chaffetz was first elected to represent Utah's 3rd Congressional District in 2008 and quickly rose through the ranks to chair the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

During his tenure, the media-savvy congressman launched high-profile and frequently controversial investigations into the Obama administration and other Democratic targets, notably Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state.

Earlier this week, Chaffetz said he had asked former FBI Director James Comey to testify in front of the committee and subpoenaed memos detailing communications between Comey and President Trump.

Since Trump's election, Chaffetz has faced increasing pressure from constituents to more aggressively scrutinize President Trump's business dealings and his campaign's alleged ties to Russia.

At a town hall in February, Chaffetz faced angry voters who booed and shouted "Do your job!" in videos that quickly went viral. Chaffetz later said that the negative reception was the result of "paid protesters."

Other Republicans have also faced heat from constituents, but Chaffetz's prominent role and frequent media appearances have made him a lightning rod for critics who say he has not pursued oversight of the Trump administration with the same fervor he did President Barack Obama's.

Asked Thursday whether he had any regrets about his time in Congress, Chaffetz said he would like to have completed more investigations.

"I think the Clinton email investigation is still not complete, and it is such importance to the nation," he said. "I've been disappointed in the Trump administration because they have not loosened up the documents in the State Department and Justice Department."

With several investigations still ongoing, Chaffetz said he was not worried about other Republican members of the committee continuing his work.

"I loved being in the driver's seat, but ... there are lots of good people who care about these issues and are well-suited to carry out these investigations," he said.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday said his office is making plans to hold a special election to fill Chaffetz's seat — only the second time in state history a congressional vacancy has occurred.

Herbert said he believes a primary and general election could be conducted fairly quickly, leaving Chaffetz's seat empty for two to four months.

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Corrected: May 18, 2017 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story gave incorrect names for the Web domains registered by Jason Chaffetz's campaign. They are and, not and
Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.