Republican Arizona Rep. Trent Franks announced his resignation from Congress Thursday, after charges of sexual misconduct began to surround the eight-term congressman. Franks is the latest high-profile politician to resign under a cloud of controversy for their personal conduct.
News of Franks’ impending resignation began swirling in earnest Thursday night, tied to rumors of “inappropriate conduct” dating back to an aborted Senate campaign in 2012, Roll Call reported.
“There’s been rumors swirling around him for years, at least in 2012,” the anonymous Republican told the outlet. “And if this turns out to be true, there won’t be that many people who are surprised.”
In a statement, Franks said he was prompted to resign over a House Ethics Committee investigation involving a “discussion of surrogacy” with two previous female subordinates, “making them feel uncomfortable.”
“I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress,” Franks said.
Franks’ resignation comes the same day that Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota announced his resignation Thursday after eight women came forward alleging he had groped or harassed them, and Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan resigned Tuesday, following numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that he asked the eight-term congressman to resign after “the general counsel to the speaker was contacted by a friend with information about 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.”
Franks, a conservative member of the House Freedom Caucus who made his opposition to abortion a cornerstone of his platform, served in the house for 15 years. (He famously opined that “incidents of rape resulting in pregnancies are very low,” a remark he later said was taken out of context.) He was also a vocal Trump supporter, arguing the president’s remarks on the Access Hollywood tape were not nearly as bad as Hillary Clinton’s abortion policies, and helping in the attempted ouster of Trump gadfly Jeff Flake.
His seat will be filled by a special election scheduled within three months of when he officially steps down.