Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona), an anti-abortion member of the Freedom Caucus, resigned effective immediately on Friday after initially announcing he would leave in January. It was previously reported that he was resigning over conversations he’d had with female staffers asking them to act as a surrogate for him and his wife.
In a statement released on Friday, he said: “Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C., due to an ongoing ailment. After discussing options with my wife, we came to the conclusion that the best thing for our family now would be for me to tender my resignation effective today, December 8th, 2017.”
One former aide to Franks told the Associated Press that he asked her at least four times to carry his child, eventually offering her $5 million to be his surrogate. (That’s a lot of money, isn’t it? As it happens, Franks has become substantially richer since he was first elected.)
According to Politico, the two women who he approached weren’t sure if he was propositioning them for sex—a reasonable thing to be confused about, since the lawmaker opposes in vitro fertilization (IVF):
The sources said Franks approached two female staffers about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife, who has struggled with fertility issues for years. But the aides were concerned that Franks was asking to have sexual relations with them. It was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization. Franks opposes abortion rights as well as procedures that discard embryos.
Trent Franks is a prominently anti-choice member of the House Freedom Caucus who considers abortion “the greatest genocide known to mankind in the history of this planet.” He introduced the 20-week abortion ban that passed the House in October, and once argued that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” He has also said that marriage equality is “a threat to the nation’s survival.”
Politico also reports on another allegation of sexual harassment and retribution:
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 While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders.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 reports that House Speaker Paul Ryan asked Franks to resign after being briefed on his “troubling” behavior. Franks denied all allegations, maintaining that he “absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.”
Handmaid’s Tale jokes welcome in the comments.