CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann'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 Fleischmann's campaign on a volunteer basis until at least Aug. 2. Fleischmann's office did not announce Saltsman's departure.

Fleischmann 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 Fleischmann's chief of staff.

Fleischmann's office didn't make the congressman available for comment Tuesday.


Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press,

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.