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Arizona Rep. Trent Franks resigns effective immediately

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., takes his seat before the start of a House Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, on Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PHOENIX — U.S. Rep. Trent Franks has resigned effective immediately, one day after he announced he was resigning from Congress after he discussed surrogacy with at least two staffers.

In a statement, Franks said he made the decision to resign after his wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. “due to an ongoing ailment.”

“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.”

The announcement came one day after the Arizona representative originally announced that he would resign at the end of January after he said he had surrogacy discussions with several staffers.

In a statement on Thursday, Franks said he decided to resign rather than face a “sensationalized trial by media” over the surrogacy discussions he had with the staffers.

“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.

Franks said he and his wife used a surrogate to give birth to the couple’s twins. They attempted to use another surrogate to have a third child but that woman had a miscarriage.

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

But Politico reported Friday that the aides were “concerned that Franks was asking to have sexual relations with them.”

Franks also allegedly “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.”

An aide for the Arizona representative also believed she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks when he allegedly offered her $5 million to carry his child.

The former staffer said the congressman asked at least four times if she’d be willing to act as a surrogate in exchange for money. Franks, in his statement announcing his resignation, said he and his wife have struggled with infertility.

“During my time there, I was asked a few times to look over a `contract’ to carry his child, and if I would conceive his child, I would be given $5 million,” she said, adding that she refused to look over the contract and has never seen a copy.

It was announced later Thursday that House Speaker Paul Ryan told Franks to resign. According to a statement released by the office of the speaker, Ryan approached Franks after he was briefed about the allegations, which Franks did not deny.

The speaker informed Franks about his intent to present the allegations to the House Ethics Committee, the house speaker “told him that he should resign from Congress” due to the seriousness of the misconduct.

Now that Franks has resigned, a special primary election will first be held to determine each party’s nominee for his seat. After that, a special election will be held, according to Arizona law.

The winner of the overall special election will take Franks’ spot in Washington, D.C.

There was no immediate word on when those elections will be held, but Gov. Doug Ducey could make the announcement as soon as next week.

Interested candidates — several names have already been thrown out there — will have 30 days after Ducey announces the election date to submit their paperwork.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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