Arizona Representative Trent Franks Will Resign Amid Bizarre Sexual Harassment Claims

Arizona Republican Congressman Trent Franks has been a longtime standard bearer for the Christian right. Adamantly anti-abortion and pro-”family values,” Franks made his career by pushing socially conservative bills through the House.

But now he’s abruptly resigning from his seat after becoming the subject of an ethics investigation regarding sexual harassment of his staff. And Franks has made what can only be called one of the most confusing and bizarre resignation announcements in history.

As CNN reports:

In his statement, Franks acknowledged he made staffers “uncomfortable” and that he discussed fertility issues and surrogacy with two female staffers, but denied having ever “physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff. 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,” Franks said in his statement. “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.”

Franks’ story — that he and his wife had been struggling to conceive, and he allegedly discussed surrogacy with two female staffers — quickly came apart within just one day. According to the Associated Press, one of the accusers contacted them with more detail, including the fact that the Congressman offered her $5 million to bear his child, asking her at least four times to be their surrogate. That wasn’t the only awkward part of the ask, either.

“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,” Politico reports. “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 also allegedly tried to convince one aide that the two of them were in love, and, when she refused his advances, retailed by cutting off her access to him at work.

Franks denied the accusations, but even a preliminary investigation showed the allegations may be true. “A senior congressional official said [Speaker of the House Paul] Ryan’s general counsel was contacted about two weeks ago by someone with information about ‘troubling behavior’ by Franks directed at a former staffer. The behavior occurred when the staffer worked for Franks,” the Associated Press reports. “Ryan’s lawyer interviewed the former staffer and a second former staffer who had a similar complaint that the speaker’s office verified through a third party. After Ryan brought the claims to Franks, he filed a complaint with the Ethics Committee and asked Franks to resign.”

As local reporters note, this wasn’t the first sign of scandal for the Arizona Congressman, either.”Franks was all set to run for the U.S. Senate in 2012 until suddenly, he wasn’t. Multiple people have told me that his after-hours activities caught up to him,” writes Arizona columnist Laurie Roberts. “‘I know there was a file,’ one Republican consultant told me. ‘The information was there to be had, and it was shared with him, so he walked away from the race.’ Another told me that Franks wrote creepy text messages a decade ago to a Republican operative – texts that never came to light. Whatever the reason, Franks’ 2012 Senate campaign abruptly ended before it began.”

In light of the new information, Franks has announced he now will be resigning immediately, a resignation that came about because at least one accuser finally felt comfortable coming forward with her story in the last few weeks.

And that is the most promising sign that our political culture is finally changing in the face of the #MeToo movement: Harassment will no longer be condoned in silence.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via wikimedia commons

38 comments

Julie D
Julie D4 months ago

Isn't it always the ones who bible thump and talk the most about family values end up being the wickedest hypocrites of all?

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Ellie M
Ellie M4 months ago

ty

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Sue H
Sue H4 months ago

Don't let the door hit your butt on the way out you two faced snake in the grass.

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Winn A
Winn A4 months ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn A4 months ago

If someone starts talking about "Christian Values" I have no trust in them whatsoever. ACTIONS speak louder than words. Just sayin . . . . . .

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Lenore K
Lenore K4 months ago

ok

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Danuta W
Danuta W4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Paul C
Paul Carter4 months ago

I never trust anyone, of any faith, who claims superiority because of their special relationship to their god. I know people of many faiths and none. The good ones just work hard at being as good a human being as they can.

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Debbi Wood
Debbi W4 months ago

For me, the more people talk about their religions, rant and set themselves up to be admired for their faith, the more suspicious I become. I've found that sincerely religious people do not brag about it but just live good lives. I really am very tired of the religious right (vs left) telling everyone how holy they are and trying to interfere in our government.

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Brian F
Brian F4 months ago

Republicans are all dirty crooks and liars who try to use the Bible and religion, to make them look holy, and yet this Republican scumbag Trent Franks, tried to pay a women 5 million dollars to bear his child. Unfortunately the Democrats with their corrupt unfair super delegate rule, recent firing of all the progressives who support Bernie Sanders, and refusal to support Medicare for All, and other progressive policies we desperately need in this country, don't have much to offer.

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