On Thursday, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) announced his resignation from congress effective January 31, 2018.
According to his resignation letter, Franks and his wife had experienced difficulty with fertility for several years before turning to surrogacy. Through a surrogate, they were able to have twins.
Several years later, with a desire to have more children, Franks allegedly spoke about the possibility of surrogacy with "two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable."
"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," the Representative wrote in his official resignation letter.
Franks noted, however, that he "absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of [his] congressional staff."
The Washington Post reports that "three Republicans familiar with the allegations said that he had asked the staffers, who worked for him at the time but have since left his office, if they would serve as a surrogate mother for his child."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) was made aware of the allegations on Wednesday, and confronted Franks on Thursday, according to an official statement released by the speaker’s office:
... the speaker presented Rep. Franks with the allegations, which he did not deny. The speaker told Rep. Franks that he intended to refer the allegations directly to the House Ethics Committee and told him that he should resign from Congress. The allegations were filed with the Ethics Committee last Friday. And today, the speaker accepted a letter of resignation. The speaker takes seriously his obligation to ensure a safe workplace in the House.
Franks concluded his resignation letter with the following:
We are in an unusual moment in history – there is a collective focus on a very important problem of justice and sexual impropriety. It is so important that we get this right for everyone, especially for victims.
But in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced that I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation. Rather than allow a sensationalized trial by media damage those things I love most, this morning I notified House leadership that I will be leaving Congress as of January 31st, 2018.
It is with the greatest sadness, that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the battle that I have spent over three decades fighting. I hope my resignation will remain distinct from the great gains we have made. My time in Congress serving my constituents, America and the Constitution is and will remain one of God's greatest gifts to me in life.
Rep. Franks was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2002, and is currently serving his seventh term, which would have ended in January of 2019.