GOP Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona was overheard by a television news crew discussing the launch of a $2 million PAC in a hotel hallway hours before announcing his immediate resignation.
The Fox 9 Minnesota news team ran into Franks outside their rooms in the Hotel Palomar in Washington, D.C., Friday morning while the embattled lawmaker was holding what reporter Tom Lyden understood to be a conversation about the launch of a PAC dedicated to reforming the Senate filibuster rule.
Lyden confronted Franks on camera, asking whether Franks believed his conversation violated House ethics rules that govern the behavior of sitting Congressmen.
“You are still in office and I heard you on the phone talking about setting up a $2 million PAC to go after the issue of the filibuster, is that proper for you to be doing while you’re still in office?” Lyden said.
“Well, that’s not something I’m going to discuss,” Franks responded.
Lyden pressed Franks further, saying “I heard you on the phone talking about soliciting $2 million for a PAC while you’re still in office, that seems to be an ethics violation?”
“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so,” Franks said.
Franks, who initially announced Thursday that he would resign effective Jan. 31 of 2018, issued a statement resigning effective immediately four hours after he was overheard, citing the hospitalization of his wife as the reason for accelerating his retirement plans.
“Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment,” Franks said in a statement. “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.”
The announcement shortly preempted a pair of reports — one by The Associated Press detailing allegations that Franks offered a staff member $5 million to serve as his surrogate and another by Politico suggesting Franks propositioned multiple former staffers to carry his child via sexual intercourse.
Franks, a staunch social conservative, said in his initial statement that he decided to resign after learning of an ethics investigation into his discussion of surrogacy with former staffers. The initial statement also noted that his twin children were conceived in “a pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos,” seemingly ruling out gestational surrogacy.
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