After announcing that he would resign in late January, U.S. Rep Trent Franks stepped down from his position as an Arizona congressman on Friday immediately after new revelations about his past inappropriate conversations with staffers came to light.
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According to reports, Franks repeatedly pressured a former aide to carry his child — even offering her $5 million to act as a surrogate. The former staffer indicated that he asked her on four different occasions to act as a surrogate in exchange for money after discussing his and his wife's infertility problems with her.
Additional sources told Politico they had also been approached by Franks about surrogacy while working for him. Both women were concerned that the congressman was asking them to have sexual relations with him, as it was unclear whether he was proposing to impregnate the staffers through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization because he reportedly opposes procedures that discard embryos.
The representative denied the allegations on Friday via a spokesperson, but acknowledged the previous day that he had indeed discussed surrogacy with staffers and apologized for it. He insisted, however, that he "absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff." Afterwards, he indicated that he would resign at the end of January — a process that has clearly been sped up a great deal since.
House Speaker Paul Ryan was alerted of the initial accusations two weeks ago when someone contacted his office with “troubling” information about Franks’ behavior toward a former employee. Ryan’s team interviewed the staffer and briefed the congressman on her story. He then urged Franks to step down.
Franks announced the news of his immediate resignation in a mysterious statement that failed to address the allegations and instead pointed to his wife’s recent hospitalization as the reason for his sudden departure:
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to wait until Monday to announce the date of a special election for a midterm replacement for Franks.