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Jason Chaffetz dismisses protesters at recent town hall, says they were paid to be there

Reporters couldn't find anybody who had been paid.


Josh Katzowitz


Published Feb 11, 2017   Updated May 25, 2021, 12:32 am CDT

After hundreds of people jeered at him during a raucous town hall meeting Thursday night, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) thinks he knows why he faced such acrimony. According to Chaffetz, who was repeatedly implored to “Do your job” by the crowd, it was the work of paid protesters.

“You could see it online a couple days before, a concerted effort in part to just cause chaos,” Chaffetz told the Salt Lake Deseret News on Friday. “Democrats are in disbelief that they have nothing but flailing and screaming to deal with this.”

Chaffetz is the chair of the House Oversight Committee, and, aside from sending a letter to the White House questioning Donald Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway’s attempt to implore Americans to buy clothes from Ivanka Trump, he’s been reticent to investigate any of Trump’s possible conflicts of interest. That, in part, is why this happened Thursday in a Salt Lake suburb.

But Chaffetz apparently believes he’s trying to be bullied and even said he’s sure people from outside Utah were brought in to make a mess of his town hall.

“Absolutely. I know there were,” he said.

Continued Chaffetz: “I’ll never satisfy their desire to bring down Donald Trump. I’ll never satisfy that. It will never be good enough … People are asking me to use the power of Congress to do a full-on fishing expedition to investigate him personally on things that are not required by law. I think my doing that would be an abuse of power.”

That, however, did not stop Chaffetz in October from threatening to dig into Hillary Clinton for years if she were to become president.

But here’s the problem with Chaffetz’s theory: As Think Progress points out, many reporters who were at the town hall meeting couldn’t find anybody who was paid to be there.

Besides, it’s not like Chaffetz is the only GOP representative to face scrutiny during town hall meetings. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) had to answer plenty of pointed questions about Obamacare last week, and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) saw so many protesters last week that he had to be escorted away by security.

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*First Published: Feb 11, 2017, 5:52 pm CST