Two Democratic members of Congress — Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Al Franken — have recently resigned (or, in the latter’s case, announced impending resignation) amid mounting sexual harassment allegations. On Thursday, reports suggested that Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona (a staunch conservative) was about to resign over sexual misconduct as well, but the announcement that arrived was, well, slightly unexpected in nature.
The New York Times reveals that Franks indeed was accused of impropriety by two female congressional aides, and he has resigned after the House Ethics Committee began to probe the complaints. The women both alleged that he them “to be a surrogate to bear his child.” In Franks’ statement about his resignation, however, he maintains that never “physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact” with his staffers. Instead, Franks claims that he simply discussed how he and his wife had become parents to twins through surrogacy, and they wanted to do so for a third child.
Franks acknowledges that he may have been “insensitive” during these conversations and regrets making anyone “uncomfortable”:
Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.
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. I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress
Franks also stresses believes it’s important to hold those guilty of sexual misconduct responsible while insisting that he never sexually assaulted or sexually harassed anyone. Yet he feels like the House probe wouldn’t have gone well for him due to any “distorted and sensationalized” reports that would circulate and cause his family pain due to “hyperbolized public excoriation.”
As for when the resignation will occur, Franks hasn’t specified a date yet, but someone is sorta-not-really-but-maybe interested in his seat …. and that would be controversial former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. (Tighten your belt buckles, folks.)
UPDATE – 12/8: MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin tweets a statement from Franks, who says that he has decided to make his resignation effective immediately due to his wife’s hospitalization.