Ariz. Rep. Franks resigns before Ethics probe

Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is among the most conservative members of the House, is expected to resign his seat as soon as Thursday, according to a GOP member and an aide familiar with his plans.

Franks says in a statement that he never physically intimidated, coerced or attempted to have any sexual contact with any member of his congressional staff.

He said he regrets that his "discussion of this option and process in the workplace" with two female staffers made them feel uncomfortable.

Franks' 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".

Ethics is unlikely to proceed in light of the resignation.

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An unnamed Arizona Republican told RollCall that "rumors" of inappropriate behavior have been "swirling around" Franks "for years, at least in 2012".

"Rather than allow a sensationalized trial by media [to] damage those things I love most, this morning I notified House leadership that I will be leaving Congress as of January 31st, 2018", he said.

Franks is one of three lawmakers to step aside in a week as sexual misconduct allegations rocked the Capitol.

The head of a prominent conservative group was present last week when a woman who has accused Rep. Trent Franks of asking her to be a surrogate for his child in exchange for $5 million detailed her allegations to House Speaker Paul Ryan's staff.

Earlier Thursday, liberal Sen.

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"We're trying to get that done before the holidays, over the next few weeks", Alderman said.

Franks' departure comes just days after Democratic Representative John Conyers of MI announced his immediate retirement amid sexual harassment allegations that he has denied. He also faced accusations from women of improper sexual behaviour that he's contesting.

Franks, an abortion opponent, drew a sharp response from Democrats during a 2013 House committee debate when he said, "The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low". Attempts to seek comment through the House Office of the Clerk were unsuccessful.

Franks is a strong backer of President Donald Trump, represents a district encompassing suburbs north and west of Phoenix.

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