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Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Arizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems MORE (R-Ariz.) said that his resignation from Congress due to discussing the option of surrogacy with his female staffers will now be effective on Friday, rather than the end of January as originally planned.
Franks cited his wife's admission to a hospital in Washington due to an "ongoing ailment." The Arizona Republican said his wife was admitted to the hospital on Thursday night.
"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,” Franks said in a statement.
Franks moved up his resignation minutes before The Associated Press reported that he repeatedly pressed a staffer to carry his child and at one point offered her $5 million to act as a surrogate.
Politico also reported Friday that two staffers weren't sure if Franks wanted them to serve as surrogates by having intercourse with them or through in vitro fertilization. One woman believed she faced retribution after rejecting Franks's request when her access to him was cut off.
The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday evening that is investigating whether Franks engaged in conduct “that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.”
Franks is the third member of Congress to resign this week as Capitol Hill reckons with sexual misconduct by male lawmakers.
Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersThe faith community can help pass a reparations bill California comes to terms with the costs and consequences of slavery Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) stepped down Tuesday after revelations that former female staffers had accused him of sexual harassment. BuzzFeed reported last month that Conyers agreed to a more than $27,000 settlement with a former aide who alleged she was fired for rejecting his sexual advances. And Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-Minn.) resigned on Thursday following allegations from eight women of groping and unwanted advances.
Franks insisted in a lengthy statement Thursday night that his decision to leave Congress was unrelated to the current swirl of sexual harassment allegations, but acknowledged that he discussed surrogacy with female aides as he and his wife struggled with fertility.
"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.
Franks said that he and his wife experienced three miscarriages and unsuccessfully pursued adoption before finding 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 3 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 RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R-Wis.) learned of Franks’s actions last week and urged him to resign. The general counsel to the Speaker was contacted by a friend who shared details of Franks’s behavior and, after working to verify the accusations, passed them on to Ryan.
Franks had served in the House since 2003 and made a name for himself through his deep opposition to abortion. He repeatedly introduced bills to ban late-term abortions. The House most recently passed a version of Franks’s legislation in October.
Remaining in the House through January would have allowed Franks the opportunity to vote on year-end legislation like the GOP’s tax overhaul and a spending package to keep the government open past Dec. 22.
But Franks was sure to be bombarded daily in the hallways by Capitol Hill reporters seeking more information about his discussions of surrogacy with female aides. That would have kept Franks in the spotlight as lawmakers continue to grapple with sexual harassment in Congress.
The Phoenix-area district Franks represented is expected to remain in the GOP column.
A special election to replace Franks could draw several contenders, including 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.
Updated: 4:09 p.m.