Yet another politician is ending his career amid allegations of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. But this time, the resigning congressman is a Republican.
Arizona Rep. Trent Franks announced his decision in a statement he released Thursday citing conversations that “made certain individuals uncomfortable.”
The conservative and eight-term Arizona GOP congressman will leave his seat Jan. 31, 2018 reportedly after two of his employees complained about Franks asking them to become a surrogate for him and his wife, Fox News reported.
“Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear,” Franks said in his statement. “I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.”
Franks’ announcement came as multiple Democratic lawmakers saw their careers implode recently.
Democrat Sen. Al Franken announced his decision to resign Thursday following multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and Michigan Democrat Rep. John Conyers also announced he was “retiring” this week as women came forward with claims about his inappropriate behavior. Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen had House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggest he step down after allegations arose about his past sexual misconduct.
In Franks’ case, the office of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan issued a statement that revealed he had immediately suggested Franks should resign after hearing the allegations.
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 statement read. “The speaker takes seriously his obligation to ensure a safe workplace in the House.”
Franks, a House Freedom Caucus member, has been married for 37 years and is the father of two young children. The couple turned to surrogacy after suffering three miscarriages and a few failed adoption attempts.
“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,” Franks continued.
The House Ethics Committee had started an investigation into Franks regarding possible sexual harassment, and when the 60-year-old lawmaker found out, he made his decision to resign.
“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,” Franks said. “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.”
Serving on the Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee, Franks was first elected in 2002 and has been a fiscal and social conservative with a pro-life stance on abortion.
“It is with the greatest sadness, that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the battle have spent over three decades fighting,” he said in the statement.
A group of fellow Republicans just prayed on the House floor with Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), who @PoliticsReid reports is resigning. Everyone stone-faced.
— Cristina Marcos (@cimarcos) December 7, 2017
Fellow Republicans, including Reps. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., were reportedly on hand to console Franks as he left the House floor following his announcement Thursday, Fox News reported.
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