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Chaffetz votes to extend Patriot Act powers

Published February 9, 2011 10:14 pm

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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Rep. Jason Chaffetz is taking heat from constituents for voting to extend some powers of the controversial Patriot Act he opposed only last year.

The measure failed — even with 210 GOP votes — because it didn't hit a two-thirds threshold needed to suspend the rules and pass.

But Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, quickly posted a Facebook explanation after the vote to extend three powers of the act for another 10 months, pleading with voters to understand he wasn't backing the same law passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Please, read the bill. It is 1.5 pages," Chaffetz said. "Many parts of the law have dramatically changed since the [Patriot Act] was first introduced. Don't rely on arguments from 10 years ago. Read the law now and let me know your specific concerns."

Some supporters bought his argument, others didn't — noting that last year, Chaffetz voted against reauthorizing the same Patriot Act powers he voted for Tuesday night.

"As a constituent, I'm disappointed," says Doug Bayless, a computer programmer who lives in Chaffetz's district and has voted for him in the past. "It's like when the vote doesn't matter, he can have his maverick vote. When it matters, he kowtows to what the party wants."

Jessica Sellers, a stay-at-home mom and graphic designer, says Chaffetz may have lost her support in the future by backing the extension.

"I voted for him because I thought he would be different," Sellers said. "This is a time to stand and be counted and it's not a time to compromise our rights for security or comfort or even convenience like this law seems to do."

Chaffetz says he voted against extending those parts of the act last year — when Democrats controlled the House — because they brought it up so fast he didn't have time to study it. This time, he says, his homework showed responsible changes had been made.

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, also voted for the extension while Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, cast his ballot against the bill.

"I've never voted for an extension of the Patriot Act," Bishop said Wednesday. "I just thought I was being consistent with what I was doing in the past. And yeah, I do think there are some areas of the Patriot Act that are viable but there are others I think that have gone too excessive against individuals."

Matheson, who voted for the original Patriot Act, said he voted for the bill because it didn't make any changes, only extended it for some time. tburr@sltrib.com