Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz, will resign from Congress, according to multiple reports Thursday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office released a statement saying that on Nov. 29 Ryan had been told of “troubling behavior by Rep. Trent Franks directed at a former staffer that took place at the time that this person worked in the congressman’s office” and “credible claims of misconduct” by Franks, who did not deny the allegations. Ryan told Franks “that he intended to refer the allegations directly to the House Ethics Committee and told him that he should resign from Congress.”
In a statement, Franks acknowledged that he discussed fertility issues and surrogacy with two female staffers, making them “uncomfortable.” But he said he had never “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, 60, first won his seat in central Arizona, west of Phoenix, in 2002. The conservative lawmaker, a member of the Freedom Caucus who was known for his support of anti-abortion legislation, briefly considered a run for Senate in 2012 before deciding against it. He was a steadfast supporter of President Donald Trump after “Access Hollywood” tapes were revealed, and drew criticism in 2013 for insisting that “incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”
Four members of Congress have been hit by accusations of inappropriate sexual conduct in recent weeks. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., submitted his resignation on Tuesday, and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., announced on Thursday he would resign “in the coming weeks.”
Freshman Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., has faced pressure from Democratic leadership to step down after a former campaign staffer accused him of inappropriate sexual advances. And the House Ethics Committee on Thursday said it wants to interview Lauren Greene, a former aide to Rep. Blake Farenthold who received an $84,000 taxpayer settlement after she sued the Texas Republican for sexual harassment and gender discrimination in 2014.