Report: Franks Asked Staffers to Be a Surrogate, Retaliated When Request Was Denied

Aides were concerned congressman was asking to have sexual relations

Trent Franks / Getty Images
December 8, 2017

Rep. Trent Franks (R., Ariz.) announced Friday that he is resigning effective immediately amid reports he made unwanted advances toward female staffers.

Republican sources said Franks approached two female staffers about being a surrogate for him and his wife who had struggled with fertility. The staffers also expressed concern the congressman was asking to have sexual relations in order to impregnate them, Politico reports. One of the woman said she faced retaliation from Franks after she denied his request, a charge that contradicts Franks' prior statement.

The congressman had announced Thursday he would resign in late January in response to the compalints, but on Friday, he stated it would be effective immediately just prior to Politico's report. He was facing pressure from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) who was briefed on the matter.

The congressman seemed to suggest he was interested in a romantic relationship, according to Politico:

A former staffer also alleged that Franks tried to persuade a female aide that they were in love by having her read an article that described how a person knows they’re in love with someone, the sources said. One woman believed she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks. While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders.

Franks told Politico through a spokesperson he was denying all allegations in the article, but did not address the allegations in Friday's resignation statement, instead citing his wife's health concerns.

"Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment," Franks said. "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."

His initial resignation statement acknowledged comments he made about surrogacy to his female staffers. He said he never coerced or intimidated anyone, and said he did not realize the ways he made women "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," he said in his Thursday statement. "I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress."

The Associated Press is also reporting Franks offered a staffer $5 million to be a surrogate mother.