A member of the US House of Representatives has been accused of harrassing female staff members to be a surrogate for him and his wife, and leaving female aides unsure whether he was attempting to have intercourse with them. At least two female aides have said that Arizona Representative Trent Franks asked them to be a surrogate, with one saying that he had offered her $5m (£3.7m).
Franks released a statement on Thursday saying that he would be resigning at the end of January 2018, but that was suddenly hastened to today, Friday 8 December. In the statement, Franks said that he and his wife "have long struggled with infertility" and previously used a surrogate for their twins.
"Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others," Franks said in the statement, adding: "I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress."
One former staffer, speaking to the Associated Press, said that Franks pressed her to be a surrogate at least four times in private settings, she declined each time and said that after she had turned him down she felt that she was ignored by the congressman and overlooked for assignments.
A similar story published in Politico reported that two female staffers were approached by Franks and that aides were uncertain whether or not Franks was asking to have sex with them himself. Another staffer told the publication that Franks had told a staffer to read an article to prove that they were in love with each other.
A statement from Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, on Thursday said that he was approached with the allegations "last wednesday" and when they were presented to Franks "he did not deny" them.
Franks is a staunchly conservative member of congress, known for his strong anti-abortion views.