Rep. Jason Chaffetz Won’t Seek Reelection over Russian Blackmail Threat-Unproven!

Summary of eRumor:

A surprise announcement from U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah that he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2018 sparked rumors that Russians have blackmail material, also known as “kompromat,” on him. 

The Truth:

Claims that Congressman Jason Chaffetz won’t seek reelection because the Vladimir Putin and the Russian government have blackmail material on him are based on a single tweet from Louise Mensch, a former member of the U.K. Parliament.

Jason Chaffetz, widely viewed as a rising Republican star and the chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, abruptly announced on April 19th that he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2018. Six days earlier, Louise Mensch had tweeted that the Russians had kompromat on Chaffetz:

The tween, which is based on unnamed sources, wasn’t taken seriously at the time. However, Adrienne Watson, the deputy communications director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), tweeted that Chaffetz’s surprise announcement would “raise more questions” about the unfounded allegations:

No proof has been provided that the Russians actually had blackmail material on Jason Chaffetz. And, although it’s not clear why he suddenly announced his exit from national politics, Chaffetz said in January 2016 that he would strongly consider running to become Utah’s governor, the Deseret Journal reported:

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jason Chaffetz is eyeing a new title — governor.

“I’m not going to be here forever. I would take a serious, serious look at running for governor,” the Utah Republican told the Deseret News. “I want to go as hard and fast as I can in the House and then go home.”

But not until 2020. That’s when Chaffetz will have reached the maximum six years he can serve as chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee under congressional rules.

The day after his surprise announcement, Jason Chaffetz said he wasn’t ruling out any options, including another run for public office, CBS News reports:

SALT LAKE CITY— Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s surprising decision not to run for re-election next year gives the GOP congressman a chance to avoid a potentially damaging re-election campaign and make a future run for governor while clearing the way for a number of ambitious Utah Republicans to try to replace him.

This morning, Chaffetz told Dough Wright of KSL Newsradio that he may not finish his current congressional term.

“I will continue to weigh the options, but I might depart early,” he told the Utah radio station via text.

Yesterday, Chaffetz also told The Salt Lake Tribune that “all the options are still on the table” with regard to his next move in politics. “I’m not opening or closing the door on anything,” he said, adding that he may potentially seek another bid for office.

Utah’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, has said he’s not likely to seek another term, leading observers to speculate that Chaffetz may run for the position in 2020. 

In conclusion, no proof has been provided that Jason Chaffetz resigned because the Russians had blackmail material on him. That rumor is based off one tweet that cites unnamed sources. That’s why we’re calling this one “unproven.”

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 04/20/2017