Congressman's chief of staff says leave planned

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischman's chief of staff says his unpaid leave of absence to supervise his boss' re-election effort was planned.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chip Saltsman said he left the government payroll June 8 to oversee Fleischman's campaign on a volunteer basis until at least Aug. 2. Fleischman's office did not announce Saltsman's departure.

Fleischman has three challengers in the Republican primary election for the 3rd Congressional District.

Saltsman said he might return as the congressman's aide after the primary.

On Tuesday, Saltsman acknowledged telling the website that he declined the first three offers to become Fleischman's chief of staff. Fleischman's office didn't make the congressman available for comment Tuesday.

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