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Rolly: Chaffetz the hunter and his tacky trophy case

First Published      Last Updated Sep 12 2016 08:30 pm

Rep. Jason Chaffetz's draconian thirst for firing people and then taking bows for it is reaching Joe McCarthyism levels — and the way he displays his trophies on a congressional website is downright creepy.

I wrote last week about Chaffetz firing 35 veteran state economic-development employees, then having them escorted out of the building under armed guard when he was the chief of staff of then-newly elected Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in 2005.

I brought up that fiasco because of Chaffetz's call recently for the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over allegations that the agency targeted tea party groups — the latest in the Utah congressman's torch-and-pitchfork attacks on members of Democratic President Barack Obama's administration or organizations conservatives dislike, such as Planned Parenthood.




It also was relevant because of recent news that the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, the entity that basically replaced those state economic-development employees, temporarily lost its nonprofit tax-exempt status for failing to file tax returns for five years.

The zeal Chaffetz displayed in carrying out his assignment of firing state employees and his call for the impeachment of the IRS boss fit a pattern.

Just look at the website of the Chaffetz-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It suggests a bloodlust.

"Getting Results," it says at the top. The narrative continues: "The committee is holding government officials accountable for misconduct, incompetence and poor performance. To date, 18 of the 20 individuals called on by Chairman Chaffetz to resign or otherwise be removed from their positions are no longer part of the federal workforce or are no longer in a leadership position."

Below that is a list of federal employees that resembles an FBI "most-wanted" lineup.

It shows their department positions and the method of their eventual departure from their jobs. And Chaffetz takes full credit for the plank walk.

But their dismissals, resignations, retirements or demotions came after highly publicized mistakes — like the perimeter breach on White House grounds or sexual-harassment allegations in the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Those separations likely would have occurred as a consequence of the public embarrassments without the shouting from the oversight panel.

Chaffetz's harangues over missteps that are bound to happen in an arena as large as the federal bureaucracy and his "off-with-their-heads" approach may play well with a Republican base eager to point fingers at a Democratic president.

Given the seeming inability of Congress to pass any meaningful reform legislation, not to mention a budget, perhaps a mirror should be held up to the House Oversight folks before embarking on spectacles of public witch trials.

There is an irony: After Chaffetz fired the 35 state employees, he didn't last long as Huntsman's chief of staff. He resigned for so-called opportunities in the private sector before running for Congress.

That occurred without any legislative hearings over his performance.

prolly@sltrib.com

 

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