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The Arizona Republican allegedly wanted a staffer to be a surrogate mother.
WASHINGTON — A former aide to Republican Rep. Trent Franks has told The Associated Press the congressman repeatedly pressed her to carry his child, at one point offering her $5 million to act as a surrogate mother.
The eight-term lawmaker abruptly resigned Friday, bowing to an ultimatum from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Ryan told Franks that he would refer the allegations to the Ethics Committee and urged him to step aside.
The former staffer said the congressman at least four times asked if she’d be willing to act as a surrogate in exchange for money. Franks, in his statement announcing his resignation, said he and his wife, who have struggled with infertility, have twins who were carried through surrogacy.
The former aide said the conversations took place in private, sometimes in the congressman’s car, and that she repeatedly told him she wasn’t interested. She said she never filed a formal complaint because until recently she didn’t know where to go, but that his behavior had made her feel uncomfortable.
The Associated Press verified the identity of the staffer and confirmed that she worked in Franks’ office. She asked that her name be withheld out of concern for her privacy.
“During my time there, I was asked a few times to look over a ‘contract’ to carry his child, and if I would conceive his child, I would be given $5 million,” she said, adding that she refused to look over the contract.
The woman said the requests shocked her, and made her feel afraid that if she didn’t agree, she would face professional consequences. She said she spoke to another aide in the office, who had also been approached about surrogacy.
The aide cited the surrogacy requests as “a main reason” for leaving the office, adding that she felt retaliated against after turning down the congressman, ignored by Franks and not given many assignments.
A spokesman for Franks would not comment on whether the congressman offered aides money in exchange to act as surrogates.
Franks, a staunch conservative, said in his statement Thursday that he never physically intimidated, coerced or attempted to have sexual contact with anyone on his staff.
Franks, 60, said he had become familiar with the surrogacy process in recent years and “became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.”
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