Much like a domino that has just been tipped, Senator Al Franken’s resignation announcement seems as if it started a ripple effect throughout Congress. Yesterday, the Democratic Senator announced that he will be resigning, in light of the sexual harassment allegations against him, giving a lukewarm speech that claimed he had not sexually harassed anyone. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” Franken stated. “Others, I remember very differently.”
Franken also pointed out in his speech how ironic it is that he, “a champion for women,” should be resigning “while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” Although Franken’s case against President Trump and Senatorial candidate Roy Moore are fair, mentioning them is a clear distraction from his own record.
— POLITICO (@politico) December 8, 2017
Franken’s speech and resignation have undoubtedly begun to shake things up in Congress. Today, the effects have already begun to surface, as NBC 12 in Arizona reports that Republican Trent Franks will also be resigning from the House of Representatives as of January 31st of 2018.
Representative Franks’ resignation comes as a bit of a surprise, as his fifteen years in Congress have been uncontroversial and his reputation unscathed. He has not only served 8 terms in his position, but is also one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth of $9.85 million. According to several political operatives in Arizona, however, the representative, who has made a career as a strong anti-abortion, family-values congressman, has been chased by rumors of inappropriate behavior for years. As reported by the Associated Press, the House Ethics Committee will be commencing an investigation into whether Representative Franks did in fact engage in sexual harassment with his staff.
BREAKING: GOP Rep. Trent Franks is resigning after ethics inquiry into his discussion of surrogacy with female staffers.
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 7, 2017
Franks made a statement today discussing why these allegations may have been brought against him. The Arizona Representative reportedly had an inappropriate conversation in which he asked a woman on his staff to be a surrogate mother for him. The odd and blatantly awkward comment seemed to resonate with Franks, stating “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.”
JUST IN: In statement, Rep. Franks explains why he is resigning:
"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." pic.twitter.com/Pl6xEktqc8
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) December 7, 2017
NBC 12 reports that, under Arizona state law, “if Franks’ announces his resignation immediately, the governor would have to call a primary election within 80 to 90 days, with a general election to fill the seat within 50 to 60 days after the primary.” Resigning in January gives potential candidates more time to campaign.
When it comes to Senator Franken’s case, TIME printed that many Republicans have defended him and declared he should not have resigned. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was quoted saying:
‘What you saw today was a lynch mob… Let’s not have due process. Let’s not ask anybody any questions. Let’s not have any chance to have a hearing. Let’s just lynch him, because when we get done lynching him, we’ll be so pure.’
What will be interesting to see is if Representative Franks will be the recipient of similar leniency.
Featured image by Drew Angerer from Getty Images.