Rep.-elect Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, won big in a lottery on Friday. It wasn't gambling. It was choosing his new House office (and his new home away from Utah).

He drew a number to determine his seniority among incoming freshmen, which in turn determined when he could choose among available offices. That is important because Chaffetz plans to live in his office and sleep on a cot to save money.

"Out of 54, I got number 6," he said. "We chose numbers about 9 a.m. We then spent the next three and a half hours scouting out offices" that were available. "I ended up getting my second choice."

It is Suite 1032 in the Longworth Office Building, the middle of three House office buildings (but one that is considered sort of the Motel 6 among the three, adequate but not luxurious). His suite is on the main floor — a rarity for freshmen who normally are stuffed into tiny offices on the top floors.

"That was important to me because I have 14 screws in my foot," he said, so he doesn't want to walk a lot of stairs or wait for elevators. (Chaffetz injured his foot three years ago by falling off a ladder while changing a light bulb.)

He also has a nice view from his window of the entrance courtyard of the Rayburn Office Building across the street. "I'm centrally located. And I'm just a few steps away from the Capitol," he said.

He said his new office has plenty of room for the cot he intends to use as his home in Washington (he doesn't want to spend money on an apartment he says he wouldn't use often), and room enough for the seven staffers and two interns he plans to have in the suite.

Chaffetz intends to shower in the mornings in the House Gym — which is in the Rayburn building across the street from him.

At the end of a week of freshman orientation — where he was elected to represent fellow GOP freshmen on the House Republican Policy Committee — Chaffetz said he chose to stay in Washington for an extra day to appear on a Fox News show on Saturday representing GOP freshmen.

"I'll miss the BYU-Utah game," lamented Chaffetz, a former place kicker for BYU. "But I thought it was a great opportunity to represent my fellow Republican freshmen."

He said he also has accepted an invitation to appear on "The Colbert Report" on the Comedy Channel in mid-December.

"We have a lot of fun talking about the office, the cot and 'The Colbert Report,' but we are dead serious with public policy and public money. We smile and laugh with the best of them, but the people's business is paramount," he said.


E-mail: lee@desnews.com