Who Is Trent Franks, the Arizona Representative Who Asked Staffers to Be Surrogate Mothers for His Wife and Him?

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Representative Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) looks on during a news conference with fellow members of the House GOP on Capitol Hill, on May 22. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

U.S. Arizona Representative Trent Franks, a Republican representing the Phoenix area, is resigning after an ethics investigation revealed that he asked his female subordinates about being surrogate mothers for him and his wife.

Franks released a statement Thursday evening explaining that while he never "physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact" with his congressional staff, he did make a few women very uncomfortable. His last day in Congress will be January 31.

In a statement, Franks admits to talking to two female subordinates about being surrogate mothers for him and his wife, who have struggled to conceive.

— NPR (@NPR) December 7, 2017

"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," Franks said. "I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress."

The Committee on Ethics just released a statement it is looking into whether Representative Trent Franks engaged in sexual harassment. pic.twitter.com/FfHwafhAr2

— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) December 7, 2017

Franks and his wife had both of their children with the help of surrogates. "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," he said.

He went on to criticize the "currently cultural and media climate."

JUST IN: In statement, Rep. Franks explains why he is resigning:

"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." pic.twitter.com/Pl6xEktqc8

— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) December 7, 2017

Franks was elected to Congress in 2002 and represented an overwhelmingly Republican district in Phoenix. A special election will now be called by Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey.

If a sitting US Rep in AZ resigns his/her seat more than 6 months before the next general election, the governor does NOT appoint a replacement. Instead, there's a special election. Here's what AZ statutes say: https://t.co/XyvUAyjQiU

— Rachel Leingang 🌵 (@rachelleingang) December 7, 2017

Arizona Capitol Times reporter Rachel Leingang reported that potential replacements for Franks, including former Arizona corporation commissioner Bob Stump, were already in the works.

Former Corporation Commissioner @BobStump tells me he will run for #AZ08.

— Rachel Leingang 🌵 (@rachelleingang) December 7, 2017

Franks will be the third member to step down because of sexual harassment allegations, following Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.). Franken announced Thursday morning that he would resign in a few weeks following allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied. Conyers resigned on Tuesday after similar allegations were made against him. He too denied the allegations.

Franks seemed to blame politics for his resignation. "I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my novel colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation," he said in his statement.