Chaffetz, a Republican representative from Utah’s 3rd District, was a friend of the industry from the beginning of his tenure. It’s not a surprise, given the amount of dietary supplement activity within his district and the wider state. The most recent assessment of the value of the industry in the state put together by the United Natural Products Alliance puts the figure at $13 billion.
“That seat has always been very friendly toward the industry” Mike Greene, senior vice president of government affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, told NutraIngredients-USA. “Chris Cannon, (who held the seat before Chaffetz) was a co-chair of the Dietary Supplement Caucus, as was Chaffetz.”
Staunch defender of industry
Still, even with Chaffetz’s table being tipped toward the industry from the outset, Greene said the fifth-term lawmaker had gone above and beyond in his support of the sector.
“He really did things the right way. A great friend, a good leader and generally a good guy,” Greene said. “He has been a partner in the lot of the work we have done on Capitol Hill. We will miss Jason Chaffetz.”
“We woke up this morning to the surprising news that Rep. Chaffetz has chosen to not run for reelection in 2018 or seek any public office next year. We note that he has been a friend and supporter of the dietary supplement industry and has served as co-chair of the Dietary Supplement Caucus. His work and leadership in the Congress has been significant both to the state of Utah and to the country,” said UNPA president Loren Israelsen, who cut his teeth as a member of the staff of another longtime champion of the industry, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT.
“We understand his deep desire to spend more time with his family, and we wish him well in his future activities. We also look forward to continuing our productive working relationship with him over the next year and a half,” Israelsen said.
In radio interviews conducted with local Utah stations, Chaffetz appeared to leave open the possibility of a run for governor of Utah, a seat that will come open in 2020. Greene said that CRN, in its work in the states (most recently CRN made a push in Puerto Rico to head off onerous regulation there), has not generally spent much time working with the staff of governors.
“We have from time to time met with governors on various issues, but in general we have yet to focus on that side because laws come out of legislatures, not the executive branch. But I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Jason Chaffetz,” Greene said.
Never ending political process
Both Greene and Israelsen said Chaffetz’ announcement is a reminder that the work of seeking friends in the halls of Congress is never done. New flocks of Representatives fly to Washington with every election, and history tells us that the turnover can be especially tumultuous in the election cycles between Presidential election years. Chaffetz was potentially facing a significant challenger within his own party, and Democratic challenger Dr. Kathryn Allen reportedly raised $561,000 in campaign funds in March alone after announcing her bid for the seat in 2018.
“We always look for bi-partisan support for the industry. So we will be looking for a Republican co-chair for the caucus,” Greene said. (The other co-chair is Rep. Jared Polis, D-CO, who won his seat the same year Chaffetz won his.)
“Rep. Chaffetz’s decision reminds us how critically important it is for all industry members to be politically active and engaged to strengthen existing and develop new relationships with key members of Congress. Our message, that safe, regulated dietary supplement products promote health and well-being and have an important role to play in helping solve the ongoing healthcare crisis in our country, is more important than ever,” Israelsen said.