Deseret News - My View: I'm done supporting and listening to Jason Chaffetz

I voted for Jason Chaffetz. I supported Jason Chaffetz. But I’m done listening to Jason Chaffetz!

For years I’ve looked past his never-ending, self-promoting ways. Indeed, the last place you want to find yourself is between Jason Chaffetz and a camera, whether he’s leg wrestling Stephen Colbert on a late night talk show, posing with Anthony Weiner and goats on the news or questioning citizens called to testify before Congress while broadcasted on CSPAN.

Often, I’ve felt compelled to turn the television channel when I see him incessantly badger witnesses before his committee, something I would never do when I’m in the courtroom questioning witnesses before an impressionable jury. It’s not that the people Chaffetz interviews don’t need to be questioned, but it’s the way in which he goes about doing the questioning — constantly interrupting, belittling and berating those called to testify that is offensive. His belligerent monologues from the chairman’s seat have often made national news, and while making headlines may seem like a personal win for Chaffetz, it’s more often than not a loss for the things he proclaims to care so deeply about.

Some may feel compelled to turn a blind eye to Chaffetz’s bellicose methods, telling themselves, “Sure he’s a bulldog, but he’s my bulldog — and he’s a principled fighter who cares for his country.” But recent events have proved otherwise. Chaffetz doesn’t care about Utah; he cares about Chaffetz!

First, he’s “never” supporting Trump (when Trump was projected to lose). Next, he’s shielding Trump from the oversight and protection we need in place for all presidents of either party. Chaffetz once said,“Oversight is where the action is,” but then he tried to kill the independent Ethics Committee — of course, his committee would remain the same. Chaffetz once stated that the slate of future Oversight Committee investigations “depends on who stays and who goes.” Utahns know that ethics should not be politicized.

Chaffetz’s behavior is contrary to Utah’s unwavering and long-standing commitment to principle over politics and offends the purpose of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee he chairs. He, earlier, threatened years of investigations into his political foes, but he now claims that he doesn’t want to go on a “fishing expedition,” referring to calls to fairly perform the duties entrusted to him. He uses his position to grant political favors and oversight leniency to those he can latch onto and also to punish those that offend him — just ask Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub — whom Chaffetz threatened to subpoena if Shaub didn’t show up to a closed-door meeting to discuss his disagreement with Chaffetz’s actions, even though Chaffetz reportedly missed the earlier less-secret meeting between the two.

In fact, the Washington Post recently published an article entitled “Jason Chaffetz just set some sort of modern record for flip-floppery.” I find it unacceptable that true principle would flip-flop. Oversight should be unbiased and administered fairly to protect the American people. Anything less permits and invites more corruption in Washington, and I think that is Chaffetz’s goal. Chaffetz is intentionally permitting, inviting and participating in DC corruption in order to find the path of least resistance for his political career.

Ironically, after talking to the media for years, bragging about how tough he is on corruption, Chaffetz now finds himself defending allegations from a full range of political alignment — from Speaker Paul Ryan to the Washington Post — regarding unethically protecting President Trump from standard review and scrutiny of potential conflicts-of-interest and creating a path for unchecked behavior for anyone who can help Chaffetz climb the political ladder.

Chaffetz is using the power of our House Oversight & Government Reform Committee as his own personal currency in Washington, D.C.

We all want to elect representatives we agree with politically, or with whom we generally align on many issues. But then, we go back to work and raising our families while our representative heads to D.C. We must know that, beyond positions on issues, that the person we send will act in our best interest, with honor, civility, and integrity. Of course we want a qualified person that understands law, policy, economics and how one thing affects another, etc.

We want a person that understands the Constitution and loves our country. We want to send someone who can fill Utah’s seat at the table in Washington and act on our behalf — not his own.

Chaffetz has not only lost many votes from Utahns, including over 35 percent of the Republican State Delegates last April, but he’s also lost the ability to effectively represent Utahns in Washington. The disrespect for Chaffetz is so widespread and quickly growing that he can no longer be taken seriously in Washington, and that puts us at a big disadvantage. His trying to please everyone has turned into upsetting everyone.

As Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Chaffetz should be beyond reproach. Yet he recently received a letter of caution from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) cautioning him to use more care with the use of two — yes two — campaign vehicles he purchased with campaign contributions. The FEC also noted that he has never adequately explained taking a campaign vehicle to Laguna Beach, California.

Perhaps the clearest indicator that Chaffetz is concerned more about Chaffetz and not us is his perpetual pursuit for higher office, be it the Senate seat he eyed six years ago or the 2020 governor’s desk he spoke of last year, while in the middle of a re-election campaign for the House. It is clear Chaffetz doesn’t want to get in, get a job done, and get out. Rather, he wants to be a career politician and add a taxpayer-paid state pension to his taxpayer-paid federal pension.

I’m done voting for Chaffetz. I’m done supporting Chaffetz. I’m done listening to Chaffetz! Oh and don’t try to buy the website domain ChaffetzForPresident.com. It is already taken.

Damian Kidd is a former deputy prosecutor and currently works for the law firm of Driggs Bills & Day. He and his wife Jenifer have three children and live in American Fork, Utah. He is a Republican and has announced he is testing the waters in a possible bid to represent Utah's 3rd Congressional District in the US House of Representatives.