Jason E. Chaffetz (born March 26, 1967) is the U.S. Representative for Utah's 3rd congressional district, serving since 2009. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district is based in Provo and includes large portions of central and west-central Utah.
Early life, education, and business career
Chaffetz's father was Jewish and his mother was a Christian Scientist. Chaffetz converted to Mormonism in his college years.
He attended Brigham Young University (BYU) on an athletic scholarship. He was the starting placekicker on the BYU football team in 1988 and 1989, and still holds the BYU individual records for most extra points attempted in a game (10), most extra points made in a game (10), and most consecutive extra points made in a game (10).
Chaffetz grew up a Democrat. His father had previously been married to Dukakis' wife, Kitty, and his half-brother is former actor John Dukakis. While a student at BYU, he was a Utah co-chairman for Michael Dukakis's 1988 campaign for U.S. President.
After college, Chaffetz joined the local business community.
His work included being a spokesman for Nu Skin International.
Early political career
He became a Republican after meeting Ronald Reagan in 1990, when Reagan came to Chaffetz's employer, Nu Skin, a multi-level marketing company based in Provo, Utah, as a motivational speaker. However, his political views had been drifting more to the right even while working for Dukakis.
In 2004, Chaffetz was the campaign manager for Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman. Huntsman won the race and, after he took office in January 2005, Chaffetz became his chief of staff.
After briefly serving in that capacity, Chaffetz returned to the private sector in November 2005, managing his own company, Maxtera Utah, which offers services in the areas of corporate communications and marketing.
In 2007, Chaffetz was appointed by the Governor, and unanimously confirmed by the Utah State Senate, as a Trustee for Utah Valley State College. He has also served as the President, BYU Cougar Club-Utah County, member of the Highland City Planning Commission, and as the Chairman for the Utah National Guard Adjutant General Review. Chaffetz also appeared on the "Better Know A District" segment of The Colbert Report in 2008, where he was defeated by Stephen Colbert in leg wrestling.
U.S. House of Representatives
In June 2007, Chaffetz announced he would challenge the 3rd District's six-term incumbent, Chris Cannon, for the Republican nomination. Although Cannon was one of the most conservative members of the House, Chaffetz ran well to his right. He claimed that Cannon “has failed us for not instituting conservative principles," specifically mentioning stronger measures to prevent illegal immigration. He continued to criticize Cannon during the campaign on the issue of illegal immigration.
Chaffetz nearly ended Cannon's career at the 2008 Utah Republican State Convention. Chaffetz won 59 percent of the 3rd District's delegates to Cannon's 41 percent.
Had a few hundred more votes gone his way, he would have won 60 percent of the delegates and gained the Republican nomination without the need for a primary. It was the second time in a row that Cannon's career had nearly been ended at the convention; in 2006 John Jacob took 52 percent of the votes at the convention (though Cannon ultimately won the resulting primary).
In the primary on June 24, 2008, Chaffetz defeated Cannon by a vote of 60% to 40%. Chaffetz's victory was shocking on several fronts. Cannon was endorsed by George W. Bush, the state's two U.S.
Senators (Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett) and almost all of the state Republican establishment. Cannon also outspent Chaffetz by 6 to 1.
Chaffetz faced Democrat Bennion Spencer in the 2008 general election, along with Jim Noorlander from the Constitution Party. Chaffetz easily won election with 66% of the vote (to 28% and 6% for Spencer and Noorlander, respectively). Chaffetz also received the highest percentage (66%) of any of the three Representatives from Utah, with Rob Bishop (R, 1st District) winning with 65% and Jim Matheson (D, 2nd District) winning with 63% in their districts. However, the 3rd is one of the most Republican districts in the nation, and it was generally believed Chaffetz had assured himself of a seat in Congress with his primary win.
Chaffetz won against Democratic nominee Karen Hyer and three third-party candidates, garnering 72% of the vote.
In early 2012 Chaffetz worked as a spin doctor on behalf of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign during primary season, shadowing the campaign of rival GOP candidate Newt Gingrich to offer rebuttals to reporters following Gingrich speeches. "I'm just trying to offer a little perspective," said Chaffetz at one of Gingrich's Florida stops.
Chaffetz announced at the start of the Congressional term in 2009 that he would be sleeping on a cot in his office rather than renting a Washington, D.C. apartment. Chaffetz said, "I'm trying to live the example that it doesn't take big dollars in order to get where we want to go. I can save my family $1,500 a month by sleeping on a cot in my office as opposed to getting a fancy place that's maybe a little bit more comfortable." His family will continue to live in Alpine, a suburb of Provo. "We are now $10 trillion in debt. $10 trillion. Those are expenses that have to be paid at some point", he said. If he can tighten his belt in these tough economic times, Chaffetz said, Congress should be able to as well.
- President Obama
Upon hearing that U.S. President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 9, 2009, Chaffetz said he had "lost all respect for the award", claiming "it used to be one of distinction, but [now] it is hard to give it any credibility".
- Nuclear waste
In November 2009 Chaffetz co-sponsored a bill in the House with Rep. Jim Matheson to block the importation of foreign nuclear waste into the United States, putting him directly at odds with Rep. Rob Bishop and Utah's Senators Bennett and Hatch who had historically supported importing foreign nuclear waste into Utah with restrictions. Chaffetz also surprised many in Utah by announcing he opposed the increase in troops in Afghanistan, and believed the best approach would be to bring the troops home from Afghanistan.
- Homeland Security
In December 2009, Chaffetz championed legislation to limit the use of full-body imaging scanners at airports. Chaffetz's bill, which passed the House and now waits for Senate approval, would limit the use of full-body imaging scanners unless a metal detector first indicated a need for more screening. The images have come under intense scrutiny from privacy groups for allegedly letting security administrators view images of undressed passengers. Salt Lake City is one of only a handful of airports using the technology.
Chaffetz has taken a pledge to vote against what he calls "trivial resolutions," including those dealing with sports, including HRES 1491 which congratulates the University of South Carolina baseball team on winning the 2010 NCAA Division I World Series and HRES 1715 which congratulates Penn State's football coach Joe Paterno on his 400th career win. Chaffetz feels that the House could be taking up much more important legislation.
- Protection for Greater Sage Grouse
Chaffetz opposes federal protection for Utah's resident Greater Sage Grouse, a bird whose population has shrunk from 16 million 100 years ago to about 200,000 today. According to Chaffetz, "The only good place for a sage grouse to be listed is on the menu of a French bistro." In 2007, a court ruled that political tampering by Julie A. MacDonald, then-deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, had "tainted" the bird's assessment, and a new review was ordered. In March 2010, the U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar assigned the bird "warranted but precluded" status, paving the way for its future protection.
February 21st, 2012