WASHINGTON — Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., offered one of his employees $5 million to carry his child, according to an associate of the former staffer, a revelation that offers more insight into the Republican's abrupt resignation announcement a day before.
Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, said in an interview with NBC News Friday that a former staffer first told her of the offer when she reached out to Lafferty about a year ago seeking advice about the work environment in Franks' Congressional office.
With allegations of sexual harassment currently making waves on Capitol Hill and nationwide, the woman told Lafferty that she would be willing to tell her story to House Speaker Paul Ryan's office. Lafferty sat in the meeting with the woman and Ryan's staff last week.
Lafferty said Franks presented the woman with the contract to be a surrogate for his child but the woman said she didn't want to see it because she was not interested. Franks approached the woman "repeatedly," Lafferty said, and the aide rejected the offer each time.
The details of the offer were first reported by the Associated Press.
"This was an abuse of his authority and it was an unwanted sexual advance and she was intimidated," Lafferty said.
Franks and his wife have struggled with infertility for two decades, Franks said in a statement announcing his resignation on Thursday. The couple had twins through a surrogate eight years ago.
As Franks announced his resignation, the House Ethics Committee announced it was opening a probe into the congressman. Franks originally said he would resign at the end of January but as more details emerged, he announced it would be effective immediately.
"Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment. 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," Franks wrote in a statement.
Franks is a socially conservative member of the House Freedom Caucus.
Ryan's office began investigation the allegations last week. Franks admitted the behavior to Ryan early this week. Ryan told him he would refer the case to the Ethics Committee and urged him to resign.
The House Ethics Committee notification said it was looking into sexual harassment and retaliation. Lafferty said the employee, as well as another female aide, were retaliated against but Lafferty declined to give details because she wants the women involved to decide what further details are released.
"I am a conservative Christian Republican and he claims to be all these things, and for him to do all these things is — I just couldn't sit by and allow this. It's just wrong," Lafferty said.