Chaffetzed!

It’s not a real good sign when your name is turned into a synonym for political backstabbling. That seems to have happened beyond retrieval to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who wants to be the next Speaker of the House. Here’s a Tweet from the guy who first lifted Chaffetz from obscurity to power in Utah:

Here’s the essential background from the Salt Lake Tribune’s Paul Rolly:

Chaffetz fell into the chief-of-staff position under then-Gov. Jon Huntsman almost by accident. He had left a sales job with the multilevel marketer Nu Skin in 2004 to be the press liaison for the Huntsman campaign. The campaign manager abruptly resigned. So Chaffetz was promoted to that job, even though his only previous experience in political campaigns was as Utah co-chairman of Democrat Michael Dukakis’ presidential campaign in 1988.

It was one of those Peter Sellers’ “Being There” moments for Chaffetz. A Huntsman victory was practically guaranteed, so Chaffetz success was all but certain. His work as campaign manager earned him the lofty role as the governor’s chief of staff.

Chaffetz’s first real public action was to gather a number of veteran employees of the governor’s economic-development office into a room and fire them. He had them escorted out by armed guards.

Huntsman took some heat, but administration officials blamed Chaffetz for how the shake-up went down.

Chaffetz quickly earned a reputation as a jealous guardian of the governor’s time, often telling legislative leaders who wanted an audience with Huntsman that they must talk to him instead.

More than one critic complained that Chaffetz seemed to think he was the governor.

Chaffetz left the job well-before Huntsman’s first term ended amid rumors that fellow staffers wanted him and his power plays gone.

It’s not a good sign when you are compared to the Chauncey Gardner character in Being There, either.

I dunno exactly when Huntsman decided to rethink his opinion of Chaffetz, but it’s likely the absolute latest date would have been in 2012 when his protege endorsed Mitt Romney for president instead of Himself.

At Salon today Digby calls Chaffetz a “grandstanding charlatan” who “seems to have a tiny problem with the truth,” especially during his disastrous interrogation of Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards last week. Odds are, he will return to relative obscurity in a few days. But it’s hard to keep a backstabbing parvenu down for long.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.