Rep. Trent Franks — the congressman who on Thursday said he would step down after discussing surrogacy with former staffers — on Friday said his resignation is effective as of Friday, claiming his wife was hospitalized Thursday night.
But he made his announcement moments before the Associated Press reported that he asked a staff member at the time to be a surrogate for his child at least four times, offering $5 million. Politico also reported it was unclear to the two staff members Franks asked to be surrogates whether he meant through in vitro fertilization or through sexual intercourse. Franks denied those allegations to Politico, although he had acknowledged Thursday that he surrogacy with staffers.
Franks claimed his wife was hospitalized Thursday night, the same night he announced he was leaving Congress. Franks initially said he would leave Congress Jan. 31.
“Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment,” Franks said in a new statement. “After discussing options with my family, we came to the conclusion that the best thing for our family now would be for me to tender my previous resignation effective today, December 8th, 2017.”
Franks announced his impending resignation abruptly Thursday, citing a House Ethics Committee sexual harassment investigation. Three congressional sources told CBS News that Franks asked subordinates in his office to be pregnancy surrogates.
Franks did not specifically admit to requesting his staffers to be surrogates, but in a statement Thursday night said he had discussed surrogacy with them, which apparently made them uncomfortable.
“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,” Franks said in part of a lengthy statement. “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.”
In Congress, Franks was known for being a staunch conservative, especially on social issues. He created a record as one of the most pro-life members. He made some controversial remarks, such as in 2013 when he suggested the rate of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low,” as he supported a measure banning abortions after 20 weeks.
Franks’ resignation announcement came the same day as a resignation announcement from Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, after accusations from multiple women that he inappropriately touched or forcibly kissed them. On Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, announced he was retiring immediately after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment.
CBS News’ Catherine Reynolds contributed to this report.
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