Rep. Trent Franks to resign from Congress after asking staffers about surrogacy


Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona said Thursday he is resigning next month after revealing that he discussed surrogacy with two female staffers.

While it wasn't immediately clear why he planned to step down, the House Ethics Committee also announced Thursday evening that it was convening a subcommittee to determine if Franks "engaged in conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment".

Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, told CNN that the accuser - a former aide whom she did not name - said that she was asked to look over a contract to carry Franks' child.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday night he accepted Franks' resignation. "I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress".

"I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff", Franks said in the statement.

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The congressman admits he "became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others".

Franks said in his statement that the investigation concerns his "discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable". They had twins through a surrogate, but subsequent attempts to have another child by either adoption or another surrogate fell through. Ryan told Franks he should resign, and said he would refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee, his statement said.

The exact reason for Franks's resignation is unknown, but the congressman indicated he would later release a statement explaining his decision.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz) (left) during a hearing on the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act at Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on May 23, 2013.

"Rather than allow a sensationalized trial by media [to] damage those things I love most, this morning I notified House leadership that I will be leaving Congress as of January 31st, 2018", he said. Al Franken, D-Minn., announced his resignation after facing allegations of sexual harassment by at least eight women. He said he'd depart in a few weeks. He serves on the House Judiciary and Armed Services committees. He says he will not put his family, staff and fellow lawmakers through "hyperbolized public excoriation".