Update: Arizona Congressman Trent Franks issued a statement today that he was resigning immediately. He said his "wife was admitted to a hospital last night ... due to an ongoing ailment." Franks announced Thursday that he would resign on January 31, 2018. AP is now reporting is that he offered an aide $5 million to carry his child.
Our original story begins here:
Back in 2012, the Daily Caller asked Arizona congressman Trent Franks how he felt about Newt Gingrich's extramarital affairs.
"All of us have baggage," he responded. "But Jesus is not on the ballot."
As it turned out, Franks had some baggage of his own. He announced today that he'd be resigning from Congress, amidst a House Ethics Committee investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
According to Franks, though, he was just trying to find a surrogate for his child.
Here's his full statement:
I have always tried to create a very warm and supportive atmosphere for every last person who has ever worked in my congressional office. It is my deepest conviction that there are many staffers, former and present, who would readily volunteer to substantiate this fact.
Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.
However, I do want to take full and personal responsibility for the ways I have broached a topic that, unbeknownst to me until very recently, made certain individuals uncomfortable. And so, I want to shed light on how those conversations came about.
My wife and I have long struggled with infertility. We experienced three miscarriages.
We pursued adoption on more than one occasion only to have the adoptive mothers in each case change their mind prior to giving birth.
A wonderful and loving lady, to whom we will be forever grateful, acted as a gestational surrogate for our twins and was able to carry them successfully to live birth. The process by which they were conceived was a pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos.
My son and daughter are unspeakable gifts of God that have brought us our greatest earthly happiness in the 37 years we have been married.
When our twins were approximately 3 years old, we made a second attempt with a second surrogate who was also not genetically related to the child. Sadly, that pregnancy also resulted in miscarriage.
We continued to have a desire to have at least one additional sibling, for which our children had made repeated requests.
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.
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. I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.
We are in an unusual moment in history – there is 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 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 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 gift to me in life.
One imagines that we'll be hearing more about Franks' alleged misconduct, but in the meantime, we say a fond goodbye to the man who once said that black people had it better under slavery, because there weren't so many children being aborted back then, and tried to keep female soldiers out of combat because they might get pregnant in a war zone.
Franks has represented the West Valley, including Glendale, Surprise, Peoria, and Sun City, since 2003. Back in 2011, he floated the idea of running for Senate, but didn't end up entering the race.
Even by the standards of Republican congressmen, Franks was weirdly obsessed with abortion. He spent most of his time in Congress introducing bills with names like the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. None of them ever passed, but that didn't stop him from introducing nearly identical legislation each year. (We eventually stopped keeping track.)
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He was also deeply disturbed by the prospect of gay people marrying each other. In 2011, he hyperbolically declared that gay marriage was "literally a threat to the nation's survival."
Franks would have been up for re-election in 2018. His seat has typically been seen as a "safe" Republican district — last year, Democrats didn't even run a challenger against him.
Per Arizona statutes, the state will now have to call a special election in order to replace Franks.
Three Democrats — Hiral Tipirneni, Brianna Westbrook, and Judith McHale — had filed paperwork to run against Franks prior to his announcement. All are political newcomers, so expect some bigger names to enter the race soon.