Rep. Trent Franks resigning immediately, not at end of January
Arizona GOP Congressman Trent Franks is resigning from Congress, effective December 8th.
"Last night, my 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, December 8th, 2017," said Franks in a statement announcing his resignation.
The eight-term lawmaker abruptly resigned Friday, bowing to an ultimatum from Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan told Franks that he would refer the allegations to the Ethics Committee, and urged him to step aside.
Franks represented Arizona's 8th District. According to Census.gov data, the district is located in the northwestern part of Phoenix.
Franks has been a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, according to the AP.
Resignation originally scheduled for January
On Thursday, when Franks announced his resignation, he stated that he would leave Congress on January 31, 2018. Earlier that day, the Associated Press reported on Franks' decision to resign, citing two Republican consultants who spoke on condition of anonymity.
News of Franks' resignation on Thursday came, as the House Ethics Committee issued a statement that it will establish an Investigative Subcommittee to determine whether 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."
According to a statement issued by Franks late Thursday afternoon, he denied every having physically intimidated, coerced, had, or attempted to have any sexual contact with any member of his congressional staff.
On Friday, the AP reported that a former aide to Franks said the congressman repeatedly pressed her to carry his child, at one point offering her $5 million to act as a surrogate.
According to the AP Friday afternoon, the former staffer said Franks, at least four times, asked if she'd be willing to act as a surrogate, in exchange for money.
The former aide, whose identity has been verified by the Associated Press, said the conversations took place in private, sometimes in Franks' car, and that she repeatedly told him she was not interested.
According to the AP, the former aide, who asked for the name to be withheld out of privacy concerns, said she never filed a formal complaint because, until recently, she did not know where to go, but that Franks' behavior made her feel uncomfortable.
The woman said the requests shocked her, and made her feel afraid that if she didn't agree, she would face professional consequences. She said she spoke to another aide in the office, who had also been approached about surrogacy.
Franks touched on his experience with surrogacy in the statement he released Thursday, saying his wife had suffered three miscarriages, and said due to his "familiarity and experience" with surrogacy, he "clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others".
>>DOCUMENT: Rules on replacing a vacant House or Senate seat in Arizona
Political analysts reacted to Franks' resignation Thursday night:
"It's not surprising to me that something like this came out, that there's another one," said Michael O'Neil. "I don't think that it will be the last."
"I'm personally shocked at the highest level that this happened to one of our congressman, and I'm shocked that it happened to Trent Franks" said Stan Barnes. "He's one of the nicest individuals who has ever served in the U.S. Congress"
O'Neil also said whoever fills Franks' seat won't change the dynamic too much, as Franks' district is a solid Republican district.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.