An anonymous former staffer in Franks’ office told the AP that he asked her at least four times if she’d be willing to carry his child in exchange for money. Franks and his wife have struggled with infertility, and in 2008 a surrogate mother gave birth to twins on the couple’s behalf.
Just after the AP story broke, Politico reported that multiple female staffers had been approached by Franks, and that it was “not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization.”
The eight-term congressman originally said he would retire in late January, but announced his retirement effective immediately on Friday after news outlets started inquiring about the new allegations, and shortly after his wife was admitted to the hospital.
Franks is the third member of Congress to announce his resignation just this week following harassment allegations against them. Michigan Rep. John Conyers and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken resigned earlier in the week after multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and groping.
That Franks—a hardline anti-abortion conservative—treated his female staffers as walking wombs shouldn’t come as a surprise. But his advances may not have stopped at proposals of surrogacy. From Politico (emphasis mine):
A former staffer also alleged that Franks 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, the sources said. One woman believed she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks. While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders.
Franks denied all of the allegations through a spokesperson on Friday. In a statement Thursday, Franks acknowledged discussing surrogacy with his staffers and apologized for making them feel uncomfortable. But he said he “absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.”
Congress pays its members a hefty salary—$174,000—but not enough enough to single-handedly make someone a multi-millionaire. Since joining the House of Representatives, Franks has seen his personal net worth more than triple, increasing by more than $25 million between 2003 and 2014. So how would Franks (allegedly) have $5 million to offer a prospective surrogate mother?
The simple answer is oil money. According to the Phoenix New Times, Franks owns between $11 million and $55 million in shares of Trinity Petroleum, making him more heavily invested in the oil and gas industry than any other member of Congress.
All I can say is: TGIF!!!!