After swearing up and down that his urgent resignation from the House of Representatives, where he controlled the powerful Oversight Committee, was a simple matter of wanting to spend time with his family in Utah, Jason Chaffetz has accepted a fellowship at Harvard University, which is located in Massachusetts.
Harvard introduces its honor code by touting honesty “as the foundation of our community,” and the code itself sets forth inviolable standards, which prohibit “plagiarizing or misrepresenting the ideas or language of someone else as one’s own, falsifying data, or any other instance of academic dishonesty.” It would be unfair to hold an oversight committee chair to common standards of academic honesty, but Chaffetz’s conduct was egregiously low. It culminated, hilariously, in Donald Trump’s unexpected victory, before which Chaffetz claimed to have “two years’ worth of material lined up” for Hillary Clinton investigations, and after which Chaffetz decided oversight wasn’t something that oversight committee chairmen needed to trouble themselves with.
But the clearest example of Chaffetz’s unfitness for a prestigious Ivy League fellowship came in 2015, when he plucked this extremely deceptive chart from the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life and used it (unsuccessfully) to sandbag Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a congressional hearing.
“That graphic is a damn lie,” Alberto Cairo, a visual communication researcher at the University of Miami, told Politifact. “Regardless of whatever people think of this issue, this distortion is ethically wrong.”
Welcoming Chaffetz won’t do anything to soften right-wing antipathy to Harvard or higher education in general, but it will introduce the kind of methodical corruption that conservatives claim already defines liberal academia.