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Utah Rep. Chaffetz Provides Transparent Reason for Leave of Absence

Rep. Jason Chaffetz posted a startling X-ray showing the hardware that has been holding his right foot together for the last 12 years.
Image: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, heads to his car in Salt Lake City on April 19, 2017.Laura Seitz / The Deseret News via AP file

The secret is out — Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz is iron man.

The Republican lawmaker revealed on Instagram the jarring X-ray of his right foot, which has for the last 12 years been held together with 14 screws and a metal plate.

But even Chaffetz, who is heading back home to Provo to have the hardware surgically removed, admits that the story of how he mangled his foot is, well, lame.

"Yes, I wish I could say I was cliff diving in Mexico but the truth is I fell off a ladder while repairing something in my garage," Chaffetz wrote in the post. “The University of Utah doctors now recommend immediate surgery to remove all the hardware or I could be at risk for serious infection.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, heads to his car in Salt Lake City on April 19, 2017.Laura Seitz / The Deseret News via AP file

Chaffetz, 50, said he expects to miss at least three weeks of work as he recovers from the surgery.

“This is not an opportune time to be away but medical emergencies are never convenient,” he wrote.

Chaffetz's office released a statement from the University of Utah Thursday night on the congressman's current condition.

"Congressman Chaffetz was admitted to the University of Utah Hospital for immediate surgery in order to resolve a serious complication from a previous injury," spokeswoman Suzanne Winchester said in the statement. "His physician advised him that it was imperative he receive surgical treatment before further complications arose. The surgery was successful and he is now resting comfortably."

The congressman's office said Chaffetz would remain in the hospital for the next couple of days and then return home to continue his recovery.

Chaffetz — who is chairman of the House Oversight Reform Committee and best known for his investigations of Hillary Clinton and alleged missteps by the Obama administration — surprised his constituents earlier this month with the abrupt announcement that he would not run for reelection in 2018.

It came as Chaffetz was feeling the heat from Democrats, and some Republicans as well, for declining to investigate the Trump administration and potential Russian involvement in the presidential election.

And it came after Chaffetz got an earful at unexpectedly raucous Town Hall meetings from hostile crowds chanting “Do your job! Do your job!”

Related: ‘Do Your Job!’: Rep. Jason Chaffetz Faces Angry Town Hall Crowd in Utah

Chaffetz did not give a specific reason for throwing in the towel on reelection beyond wanting to spend more time at home with his family. He also left open the possibility that he might run again for public office, “but not in 2018.”

It’s a safe bet, however, that Chaffetz won’t try to revisit his glory days as the starting place kicker on the Brigham Young University football team.

“That was his kicking foot,” Chaffetz spokeswoman M.J. Henshaw told NBC News.