Nation

Representative Trent Franks of Texas resigns amid ethics investigation

Representative Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is among the most conservative members of the House, said Thursday he would resign his seat in a statement where he acknowledged asking two female subordinates to bear his surrogate children.

Franks’s announcement came as the House Ethics Committee said it would create a special subcommittee to investigate Franks for conduct “that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.”

His resignation, which Franks said is effective Jan. 31, will end the ethics investigation.

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Franks said in his statement that the probe concerns his “discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable.” He denied ever having “physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.”

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

Leaving the House floor Thursday, Franks did not confirm or deny plans to resign, telling reporters that he would put out a statement later in the day.

While Franks was on the floor Thursday voting on a stopgap funding bill and other measures, he appeared to be consoled by a number of fellow Republicans. At one point, Franks and four colleagues locked arms and bowed their heads in an apparent prayer.

Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee said it has unanimously voted to establish an investigative panel to examine sexual harassment allegations against Republican Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas.

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The committee said it will investigate whether Farenthold sexually harassed a former member of his staff and retaliated against her for complaining.

Lauren Greene, a former communications director in the congressman’s office, alleged in a 2014 federal lawsuit that she was sexually harassed and fired soon after complaining of a hostile work environment.

Farenthold said when the case was settled in 2015 that he didn’t engage in any wrongdoing.

The committee has reviewed more than 200,000 pages of materials and interviewed multiple witnesses. It said that in light of recent developments, it considers it appropriate to continue the work.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.