Republican Congressman Trent Franks has announced that he would resign his seat after House officials learned that he had asked two female employees to bear his child as a surrogate, the Washington Post reports.
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.”
The Arizona lawmaker said in his statement that the investigation concerns his “discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable.”
His resignation, which is effective Jan. 31, will end the ethics investigation, according to the report.
While Franks’s statement left the circumstances of the “discussion” murky, three Republicans familiar with the allegations said that he had asked the staffers, who worked for him at the time but have since left his office, if they would serve as surrogate mothers for his child through sexual contact.
In his statement, Franks said he never “physically intimidated, coerced, or had 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,” Franks said, according to The Post.
Franks added that he was compelled to resign after concluding that he would be unable to endure the ethics probe “before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation.”
A spokesman for Franks did not respond to a request for comment on the report.
Under Arizona state law, a special election must be called if there is a vacancy more than six months before a regularly scheduled election.