Rep. Franks resigning after discussing surrogacy with female staff

Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksHouse forges ahead with Dec. 22 spending bill Conservatives fear end-of-year ‘Christmas tree’ spending bill Adoption tax credit restored after conservative backlash MORE (R-Ariz.) revealed on Thursday that he is resigning because he discussed the option of surrogacy with female staffers.

The House Ethics Committee announced that it is opening an investigation into his actions.

"Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others," Franks said in a statement. 

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“I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.”
 
Franks said he will step down from the House at the end of January after serving since 2003.
 
He said that he’s choosing to resign because “in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics [Committee] investigation.”
 
Franks emphasized Thursday that he did not engage in physical sexual misconduct toward his aides.
 
"I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff," he said.
 
Franks said that he and his wife experienced three miscarriages and pursued adoption multiple times, only to see the birth mothers change their minds.
 
They later found a woman to serve as a surrogate for their twins. Franks and his wife tried to have another child with a second surrogate when the twins were three years old, but it also resulted in a miscarriage.
 
“We continued to have a desire to have at least one additional sibling, for which our children had made repeated requests,” Franks said.
 
Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) was briefed on Franks’s actions last Wednesday, according to his office. Details of Franks’s behavior made its way to Ryan because the general counsel to the Speaker was contacted by a friend who shared the information.
 
Ryan confronted Franks the next day. He told Franks he would refer him to the House Ethics Committee and recommended he resign. The allegations were filed with the Ethics Committee last Friday.
 
“The speaker takes seriously his obligation to ensure a safe workplace in the House,” Ryan’s office said in a statement.
 
Franks was best known in Congress for his fierce opposition to abortion. He has repeatedly introduced legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which the House most recently passed in October.
 
He drew controversy in 2013 while pushing a version of his 20-week abortion ban when he said that the incidence of pregnancies resulting from rape is "very low." Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnFormer Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Google, Facebook and Drudge: What the new titans of media mean for America Learning from the states: Feds should adopt anti-pyramid scheme law MORE (R-Tenn.) was later assigned to manage House floor debate on the bill in his place amid the furor at the time.
 
 
"Donald Trump's words degraded and insulted women in the most flagrant possible way, and yet Hillary Clinton's policy is to allow the murder of a half a million little tiny women every year," Franks told CNN last year.

Arizona Republicans say that a special election for the solidly GOP Phoenix-area district would likely draw as many as a dozen serious candidates. 

They pointed to state Sens. Debbie Lesko, Kimberly Yee and Steve Montenegro, state Reps. Darin Mitchell and David Livingston, former state Rep. Rick Gray and Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman as potential contenders.
 
As reports of his impending resignation broke, GOP lawmakers approached Franks on the House floor with looks of shock and concern on their faces. Franks had not yet released a statement explaining his story at the time of the floor appearance.
 
Several fellow conservatives sat with Franks near the center of the House floor, bent their heads and prayed.
 
Updated at 7:25 p.m.
 
Reid Wilson contributed to this report