WASHINGTON — Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Thursday that he would resign on Jan. 31 as the Ethics Committee opened an investigation into allegations that he harassed female staffers about carrying his child.
Today, Franks made that resignation effective immediately as details about the surrogacy claims surfaced.
“Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment,” Franks said in an afternoon statement. “After discussing options with my family, we came to the conclusion that the best thing for our family now would be for me to tender my previous resignation effective today, December 8th, 2017.”
The congressman said in a lengthy statement Thursday that he’s “always tried to create a very warm and supportive atmosphere for every last person who has ever worked in my congressional office,” and has “absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.” He said the Ethics Committee was investigating his discussions of “surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office said he was briefed last week “on credible claims of misconduct” by Franks and “found the allegations to be serious and requiring action.” Ryan confronted Franks with the allegations, “which he did not deny.”
“The speaker told Rep. Franks that he intended to refer the allegations directly to the House Ethics Committee and told him that he should resign from Congress,” Ryan’s office said.
A former aide told the Associated Press today that Franks, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, offered her $5 million to carry his child.
The staffer said the congressman asked her at least four times to be a surrogate.
Citing House GOP sources, Politico reported that Franks allegedly retaliated against a staffer after she rebuffed his advances.
The two aides who were approached by Franks about serving as surrogates “were concerned that Franks was asking to have sexual relations with them,” said the report, as “it was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization.”
“A former staffer also alleged that Franks tried to persuade a female aide that they were in love by having her read an article that described how a person knows they’re in love with someone, the sources said. One woman believed she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks. While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders,” Politico continued. The now-former congressman denied the allegations.