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Chaffetz says love of family is motive to leave, likes established rules to replace him

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Chaffetz says love of family is motive to leave, likes established rules to replace him (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Speaking to Utah media after releasing a letter to those in his 3rd Congressional District announcing he will step down June 30, Rep. Jason Chaffetz said he is ready for a change.

"The overwhelming driving force is that I love my family. A lot of people will never believe that, but that is the truth," he said of his motive to leave Congress.

Speaking from him home, seated on his couch with his wife Julie and petting his dog after a recent foot surgery, Chaffetz said his life with his wife is changing and it was time to leave the U.S. Congress. He also spoke of missing moments of his children's lives -- such as graduations -- and becoming empty-nesters.

He said a midlife crisis hit on his 50th birthday, sleeping on his cot at the Capitol, realizing he was missing important occasions.

"Faced with the idea of 200 to 300 nights away for the rest of this term, I just didn't want to do it," he said. "It also fulfills this promise that I made, which is get in, serve, and get out. I just don't believe you should be in Congress forever."

While he opposes term limits he doesn't think long stays in Congress are good for the country or healthy for members of Congress.

"As much as I like my job, I love my family," Chaffetz said.

He said it was important to make the announcement to allow other candidates to prepare to go through the process to run to replace him.

He also said he supports the plan by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to follow the plan to replace him. He said Utah's Legislature could have changed the rule previously if they thought the system in place wasn't right and now that he is leaving is not the time to revise them. He said he doesn't intend to endorse anyone until there is a nominee.

"I am not the only one who can do this job," he said.

He did not confirm the rumors that he will be joining Fox News.

He said he will miss a lot about his job.

"I accomplished more than I ever thought I would accomplish he said. I always admired those athletes who have kind of hung up their cleats before it's too late," he said.

Sports was something of a theme as he talked to media Thursday. He mentioned several times, when talking about his demeanor as an elected official, that he was a place kicker. He kicked for BYU in Provo.

He said he was proud of the efforts he made to hold Washington D.C. accountable, specifically mentioning Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal and the Clinton email scandal. He said he was right in the middle of those efforts.

He said he would have liked to finish some of those investigations.

"I have a big long speech about how to do that better in the future," said Chaffetz.

He said the Clinton email scandal is still not complete and is of great importance to the nation. He said he was disappointed in the Trump administration for not loosing up the documents related to the investigation.

He said it is a real problem in Congress that he has the power to issue a subpoena but has no power to enforce that subpoena. He hopes that changes in the future.