Republican Arizona Congressman Trent Franks announced his plans to step down on Thursday.
The Congressman said he will be vacating his seat on January 21, 2018 after two of his employees came forwards with complaints. However, it’s not exactly how it seems.
Franks did not sexually harass the women and touch them inappropriately, but rather discussed the possibility of them becoming a surrogate for him and his infertile wife. They have had trouble getting pregnant again and were reaching out at other options.
He said that he had no idea the women felt uncomfortable.
The House Ethics Committee had previously released a statement announcing an investigation into the congressman regarding possible sexual harassment.
“Pursuant to the Committee’s action, the Investigation Subcommittee shall have jurisdiction to determine whether Representative Trent Franks engaged in conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct,” the statement said.
Franks said that he “absolutely 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,” he added.
The congressman elaborated on his and his wife’s difficulty with fertility and adoption through the years and wanted to have another child, in addition to their twins. He said because of his “familiarity and experience with the process” he “clearly became insensitive” about how discussing surrogacy “might affect others.”
Franks said he learned of the committee’s intention to open an inquiry into the matter and doesn’t believe he’d have a fair investigation “before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story” brought criticism onto those involved.
“It is with the greatest sadness, that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the battle I have spent over three decades fighting,” Franks said.
Upon leaving the House floor on Thursday, Franks was consoled by fellow Republican members, including Reps. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.
The congressman serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee and is also a member of the House Freedom Caucus.
The Congressman was first elected into the House in 2002, and is serving his eighth term in Congress.