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Politics & Policy

On Jason Chaffetz’s Longing for Greener Pastures

As anyone who has ever held a job knows, there are norms and expectations associated with quitting. These expectations differ depending on the position: If you’re a part-time dishwasher at the local Dairy Queen, giving two-weeks’ notice is the customary and appropriate way to tell your boss that you’ll no longer be working the noon to 8 p.m. shift on the weekends. If you’re a full-time employee, you owe it to your employer to give appropriate notice and to work a reasonable amount of time after being hired before moving on to greener pastures, customarily, at least a year. If you’re a contract employee, you’re expected to honor your end of the contract, just as you expect your employer to honor his.

When I worked in the West Texas oilfields after college at the height of the last oil boom, I remember the contempt we roughnecks held for the new-hires who would work a month, a week, or even a few hours before quitting. At the time, roughnecking jobs were in such demand that you had to know someone — an uncle, a friend, a cousin, a friend’s cousin’s uncle — who was willing to pull some strings, stick his neck out, and vouch for you in order to get you a job. I vividly recall laying in my bunk my very first week in the patch, exhausted and sore, and swearing that I would die before quitting, going home, and embarrassing the man who got me a job. The guys who quit and went home, sometimes without even letting anyone know? We had a simple term for them: twerps.

Which brings me to Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah. Our old friend Elaina Plott, now with The Washingtonian, reports that, after announcing in April that he would not seek reelection in 2018, Chaffetz, the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, has been spreading the word that he will resign his office early to take an on-air job with Fox News.

According to two GOP lawmakers who have spoken to Chaffetz directly and four senior House Republican aides, Chaffetz has been telling people he’ll take on what one source calls a “substantial role” in on-air talent at Fox News Channel, possibly as early as July, amplifying whispers that Chaffetz will not finish out his current term — our sources tell us that he will likely depart Congress in June.

Chaffetz, 50, has said on Facebook he made “a personal decision to return to the private sector.

If Chaffetz ends up on your TV screen this summer, just remember that he resigned his seat after essentially signing a contract just six months ago with the citizens of Utah to serve a two-year term.

It would be one thing if Chaffetz were resigning in disgrace or for health reasons. But he’s not. Rather, like Sarah Palin in 2009 and Jim DeMint in 2013, the congressman is resigning because he thinks he has better things to do with his time than to keep his word to the people who elected him. This is dishonorable. No one forced Chaffetz to run for reelection last November; no one forced him to take the chairman’s gavel of the vitally important House Oversight Committee; and no one is forcing him to run his mouth to everyone on the Hill about his new, better, more lucrative gig.

We had a word for that in the oilfield.


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