House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is certainly relishing his role. He has turned what should be a bipartisan watchdog arm of Congress into the Republican Party’s own prosecutorial inquisition, ignoring any wrongdoing within his own party but instead choosing to squander millions of taxpayer dollars trying to uncover supposed wrongdoing by Democrats, no matter how trivial the case might be.
Chaffetz’s latest target is the Bears Ears national park, which was declared a national monument by President Obama in the twilight of his administration. Chaffetz is “concerned” that a tweet by the National Park Service means that the Obama administration went behind Congress’ back and informed the park that they would be given monument designation before it was appropriate.
Welcome to the family Bears Ears (& Gold Butte) NM! A hopeful slot in our front desk maps has long been held for you pic.twitter.com/r1vCLO7Uts
— Bryce Canyon NP (@BryceCanyonNPS) December 29, 2016
The fact that a mailbox had been already made for the Bears Ears at the National Park Service is apparently evidence of some kind of collusion between the Obama administration and Bears Ears rangers.
The superintendent told Chaffetz that a volunteer “saw a news report regarding the potential for a Bears Ears National Monument, approached his supervisor, Supervisory about holding a brochure slot, and she approved it knowing that if the Bears Ears National Monument was not created, the slot could be used by another regional recreation area.”
But that explanation apparently isn’t good enough for Chaffetz. He and his other Republicans are likely upset that the 1.53 million acres of the national park now cannot be developed for mineral or fossil fuel resources by the corporations that fund their election war chests. In a letter to park superintendent Sue Fritzke, Chaffetz complained that:
“The White House is telling the governor as well as the congressional offices that no decisions had been made — that it was still an open question — so how is it [Bryce Canyon National Park officials] were already ready to go with that information? The timing is serious.”
It’s difficult to understand what is so serious about this matter at all.
What IS very serious is that Chaffetz and his squad of witch-hunters spent 1,021 days and nearly ten million dollars conducting eight different investigations into the terrorist attack by al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.
He then spearheaded a probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, which ended up costing another $20 million in taxpayer dollars.
Nothing substantial ever came from either probe.
But given his apparent concern over information security, the colossal implications of the Russian cyberwarfare and electronic intelligence gathering campaign against American political parties during the 2016 election and the Trump administration’s confirmed links to Russian agents should his top priority.
Instead, Chaffetz is investigating a national park over whether or not they were told in advance that they were going to be designated a national monument.
Those are Republican priorities for you.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.