Why is powerful Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz getting out of politics?

Why is powerful Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz getting out of politics? (Photo: Cimaron Neugebauer/KUTV)

This story will continue to be updated throughout the day as new information comes in. Check back often. (All times are MDT)

11:15 a.m. — "I just turned 50, I'm sleeping on a cot in my office. I spent more than 1,500 nights away from my family and it's time to recalibrate," Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah's 3rd district tells Utah media outlets.

9:45 a.m. — Dr. Kathryn Allen told 2News she was "shocked" by the announcement. Allen, who raised money to run against Chaffetz after his notorious iPhone comment, said she "thinks there is something going on that we don't know."

(KUTV) Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced on Tuesday morning, via his Facebook page, that he would not seek re-election in 2018.

The surprising announcement comes after Chaffetz has continued to build power and influence in Congress by being an ambitious and outspoken figure in high profile cases. He investigated Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate and when she was Secretary of State for President Obama. Recently, Chaffetz faced a public backlash in February while at a local town hall event in Utah. Constituents were frustrated about his handling of the investigation into Donald Trump and his plans to repeal Bears Ears National Monument.

The congressman and chairman of the House Oversight Committee cited a desire to spend more time with his family as the motive for deciding to get out of politics — for now.

"I like the work in Congress, but I like my family more," Chaffetz said, who has three children and has been married since 1991.

Will Chaffetz run for governor in 2020? It's possible.

"I'm going to keep every door open, I've said in the past that I have been interested in that position."

The decision for the powerful congressman to get out of politics comes as a surprise to those who work with him and others who were planning on running against him.

Dr. Kathryn Allen told 2News she was "shocked" by the announcement. Allen is a Democratic political newcomer who raised a half million dollars almost overnight to run against Chaffetz after his notorious iPhone comment. He suggested people should plan ahead and spend their money wisely on health insurance instead of getting the latest iPhone.

As far as future plans are concerned for after 2018, Chaffetz told KSL Newsradio's Doug Wright on "The Doug Wright Show" that maybe he would look at starting another company. Prior to getting into politics, Chaffetz worked in the local business community for 16 years and owned a corporate marketing and communication firm. Before running for Congress, Chaffetz served as campaign manager and chief of staff to former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. from 2003 to 2005. After Huntsman's victorious run as governor, Chaffetz served for a year as his chief of staff before moving back into the private sector where he managed his own corporate communication and marketing firm, Maxtera Utah. Utah business records show the business license ran out in 2010 and was never renewed.

Chaffetz says his decision comes after "long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration" and had nothing to do with his health or fear of losing re-election.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan said he was "thankful" to have served with Chaffetz, who he called a "great defender of liberty and limited government."

Learn more about Jason Chaffetz, his background and prior political experience in the information below.

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