Franks to re­sign af­ter dis­cussing sur­ro­gacy with his sub­or­di­nates

The Buffalo News - - WASHINGTON NEWS - By Mike DeBonis and Michelle Ye Hee Lee WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON – Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Repub­li­can who is among the most con­ser­va­tive mem­bers of the House, said he would re­sign his seat af­ter House of­fi­cials learned that he had asked two fe­male em­ploy­ees to bear his chil­dren as sur­ro­gates.

Franks’ an­nounce­ment came as the House ethics com­mit­tee said it would cre­ate a spe­cial sub­com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate Franks for con­duct “that con­sti­tutes sex­ual ha­rass­ment and/or re­tal­i­a­tion for op­pos­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment.”

His res­ig­na­tion, which Franks said is ef­fec­tive Jan. 31, will end the ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Franks said in his state­ment that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cerns his “dis­cus­sion of sur­ro­gacy with two pre­vi­ous fe­male sub­or­di­nates, mak­ing each feel un­com­fort­able.”

WhileFranks’state­mentleft the cir­cum­stances of the “dis­cus­sion” murky, three Repub­li­cans fa­mil­iar with the al­le­ga­tions said that he had asked the staffers, who worked for him at the time but have since left his of­fice, if they would serve as sur­ro­gate moth­ers for his chil­dren. A spokesman for Franks did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment on that claim.

In his state­ment, Franks said he never “phys­i­cally in­tim­i­dated, co­erced, or had, or at­tempted to have, any sex­ual con­tact with any mem­ber of my con­gres­sional staff.”

“How­ever, I do want to take full and per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ways I have broached a topic that, un­be­knownst to me un­til very re­cently, made cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als un­com­fort­able,” Franks ex­plained in his state­ment that he and his wife have long strug­gled with in­fer­til­ity. Af­ter hav­ing twins with a sur­ro­gate, the cou­ple sought ad­di­tional chil­dren, he said.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s of­fice said in a state­ment Thurs­day that Ryan, R-Wis., had been briefed on “cred­i­ble claims of mis­con­duct” by Franks last week.

Franks did not deny the al­le­ga­tions when Ryan con­fronted him, ac­cord­ing to the speaker’s state­ment. Ryan told Franks he should re­sign, and said he would re­fer the mat­ter to the House Ethics Com­mit­tee, his state­ment said.

The Franks rev­e­la­tions came on the same day that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., re­signed his seat fol­low­ing mul­ti­ple al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct and as the House Ethics Com­mit­tee opened a sep­a­rate probe into Rep. Blake Far­en­thold, RTexas.

The com­mit­tee ini­tially launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Far­en­thold in Septem­ber 2015, but it was “sig­nif­i­cantly de­layed” be­cause the com­mit­tee could not get “key wit­nesses other than Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Far­en­thold” to tes­tify, ac­cord­ing to the com­mit­tee’s state­ment.

Far­en­thold’s for­mer com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, Lau­ren Greene, ac­cused Far­en­thold in 2014 of mak­ing sex­u­ally charged com­ments de­signed to gauge whether she was in­ter­ested in a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship. Greene filed suit through the for­mal com­plaint process with Congress’ Of­fice of Com­pli­ance.

It was re­vealed last week that Far­en­thold used $84,000 in tax­payer money to set­tle the law­suit. Far­en­thold has de­nied wrong­do­ing in the case.

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