Last Updated Dec 9, 2017 11:00 AM EST
A local TV crew from Minnesota said they heard now-former Rep. Trent Franks discussing setting up a political action committee four hours before he announced his immediate resignation Friday, and after Franks later said his wife had been hospitalized the night before. Franks resignation came amid a House Ethics Committee investigation and complaints from former staffers that Franks asked them to be surrogates, as three congressional sources.
A crew from Fox 9 in Minnesota was at the Hotel Palomar in Washington, D.C, Friday morning, when they noticed Franks talking loudly on his cell phone in what the reporter Tom Lyden understood as a conversation about soliciting $2 million to establish a PAC to advocate for reforming the Senate filibuster. When confronted, Franks did not deny the conversation or its contents.
Four hours later, Franks issued a statement resigning immediately, mentioning that his wife had been hospitalized the night before. Franks’ statement came shortly before the Associated Press and Politico reported he offered a staff member $5 million to carry his child.
“Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment,” Franks said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “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.”
This is the conversation the TV crew had with the congressman after hearing his phone conversation:
Tom Lyden: You are still in office and I heard you on the phone talking about setting up a $2 million PAC to go after the issue of the filibuster, is that proper for you to be doing while you’re still in office?
Congressman Franks: Well, that’s not something I’m going to discuss.
Lyden: But I heard you on the phone talking about soliciting $2 million for a PAC while you’re still in office, that seems to be an ethics violation?
Franks: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
CBS News has reached out to Franks’ previous communications director for comment, but as Franks is now a former congressman, he has no congressional spokesperson.
While in Congress, Franks established a record as a staunch conservative, particularly on pro-life issues. He also established himself as staunchly against the Senate’s filibuster, a tool in the Senate that lawmakers can use to delay or block legislative action. President Trump has also railed against the filibuster since taking office. In August, for example, Franks authored an op-ed in The Hill titled, “Senate must end the tyranny of the minority and abolish the filibuster.”
Frankshis resignation would be effective come Jan. 31 of next year.
“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 his initial statement. “I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.”
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