Chaffetz may not finish U.S. House term: media reports

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of a House committee with broad investigative powers, said on Thursday that it is possible he could leave office before his term finishes next year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“My future plans are not yet finalized, but I haven’t ruled out the possibility of leaving early,” Chaffetz told the Journal a day after the Utah congressman announced he would not run for re-election in 2018.

Chaffetz’s staff in Washington, D.C., and in Utah did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In Utah, officials have begun running informal scenarios on how and when to hold a special election should Chaffetz resign, but have not been formally notified of the congressman’s intentions, Mark Thomas, the state’s director of elections, told Reuters.

Thomas said his department in the office of Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox was basing the informal information-gathering on Chaffetz’s statements to local media that he might leave office early.

“We don’t know what he’s planning,” Thomas said. “This is more informal, just wanting to know ourselves and be prepared.”

Chaffetz, a conservative Republican who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2008, gained prominence as head of the committee that investigated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was U.S. secretary of state.

Chaffetz’s remarks on a possible early departure from office were first reported by KSL Radio in Salt Lake City.

Chaffetz, 50, in the past had considered running for a U.S. Senate seat. A former Chaffetz aide on Wednesday told Reuters the congressman may run for Utah governor in 2020, though no firm decision had been made yet.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan in Washington, D.C., and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif.; Editing by Eric Walsh and Leslie Adler