Updated 4:30 p.m. After announcing Thursday that he would resign from Congress as of January 2018, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks announced on Friday he’s resigning immediately, citing a family illness.
“Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment. 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 Friday afternoon statement.
Soon after Franks' announcement, the Associated Press reported that a former Franks staffer said the congressman offered her $5 million to carry his child. The staffer told the AP Franks asked her at least four times to be a surrogate in exchange for money.
House GOP sources told Politico Franks had asked two female staffers to act as surrogates for him and his wife, but it wasn't clear if the congressman was expecting them to have sexual relations with him. Franks also tried to convince a female aide she was in love with him, according to a former staffer who spoke to Politico. A female staffer said she felt retaliated against after turning Franks down.
Franks has denied these allegations. "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 a Thursday statement.
On Thursday, Roll Call first reported Franks was expected to resign. Hours later, the GOP congressman released a statement explaining he’d resign as of Jan. 31 citing an Ethics Committee inquiry.
“I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable,” Franks said in his Thursday statement.
That inquiry will end now that the eight-term Republican is no longer a member of Congress.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan was first briefed about the allegations Nov. 30. The next day, he told Franks he needed to step down and referred the allegations to the House Ethics Committee.
Rumors about the Freedom Caucus member have been buzzing for years, according to a GOP source in the state, dating back to at least 2012 when Franks abruptly abandoned plans to run for Senate.
Elected in 2002, Franks first represented the old 2nd District. The race for his 8th District seat is rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will now need to call a special election, with state law requiring the special election primary date be set within 72 hours of the vacancy becoming official.