Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is one of the most conservative members of the House, said he would resign after House officials knew he had asked two female employees to take their children as substitutes.
The 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."
His resignation, which according to Franks came into force on January 31, will end the ethical investigation.
Franks said in his statement that the investigation refers to his "discussion of subrogation with two previous subordinates, making each one feel uncomfortable."
While Franks' statement left the circumstances of the "discussion" murky, three Republicans familiar with the accusations said he had asked the staff members, who worked for him at the time but who had since left their office, if they were going to serve as surrogate mothers for their children. A spokesman for Franks did not respond to a request for comment on that claim.
In his statement, Franks said he never "physically intimidated, forced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congress."
"However, I do want to take full and personal responsibility of the ways in which I have tackled a subject that, until I know, until very recently, made some people uncomfortable, "said Franks, adding:" I deeply regret it ". that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress. "
Franks explained in his statement that he and his wife have long struggled with infertility After having twins with a substitute, the couple sought additional children, he said.
The office of Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul D. Ryan said in a statement Thursday that Ryan (R-Wis.) had been informed of "credible claims of misconduct" by Franks the week last, after the House General Counsel was contacted about the allegations and investigated.
Franks did not deny the allegations when Ryan confronted him, according to the speaker's statement.Ryan told Franks that he should resign, and said he would refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee, his statement said.
"The speaker takes seriously his obligation to guarantee a safe workplace in the House," said the statement. [1
The committee initially initiated an investigation into Farenthold in September 2015, but was "significantly delayed" because the committee was unable to obtain "key witnesses other than Representative Farenthold" to testify, according to the committee's statement.
Farenthold's former communications director, Lauren Greene, accused Farenthold in 2014 of making sexually charged comments designed to assess whether she was interested in a sexual relationship. Greene filed a complaint through the formal complaint process with the Congressional Compliance Office.
It was revealed last week that Farenthold used $ 84,000 in taxpayer money to settle the lawsuit. Farenthold has denied wrongdoing in the case.
This week, Greene spoke publicly about his experience for the first time since he made the accusation. In interviews with CNN and Politico, he described the significant professional reaction he faced after filing a lawsuit against Farenthold.
Greene's lawyer told Politico on Thursday that the House Ethics Committee has asked Greene to cooperate with the investigation and appear before the panel. The Ethics Committee had asked to interview her more than a year ago, but she declined, wanting to move on, her attorney Les Alderman told Politico.
Farenthold said in a statement Thursday that he is "relieved" of the Chamber's ethics. The committee will continue to investigate the matter, saying he is "sure that this matter will be resolved once and for all."
Franks has served in the House of Representatives since 2003 and is known as a fierce opponent of legal abortion, recently sponsoring a bill prohibiting abortions after the 20-week gestation he spent in the House. He is also an outspoken critic of the Senate's obstructionist rule, blaming him for blocking conservative bills.
Franks is also a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a far-right faction that has often clashed with Republican leaders.
Considered a candidacy for the Senate in 2012, but suddenly withdrew. He continued as president of a Judicial subcommittee of the House of Representatives and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
While Franks was in the voting room on Thursday on a draft bill and other measures, he seemed consoled by several Republican comrades. At one point, Franks and four colleagues joined and bowed their heads in apparent prayer.
Franks said he was forced to resign after concluding he could not stand the ethics test "before the distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through a hyperbolic public excoriation "
" Instead of allowing a sensationalist judgment for damages to the media the things that I love the most, this morning I notified that I will leave the Congress on January 31, 2018 ", said . "It is with the greatest sadness that, for the sake of the causes that I deeply love, I must now take a step back in the battle I have been fighting for more than three decades."
8th Congressional District of Arizona, which extends northwest of Phoenix, leans Republican by 13 points, according to the independent political report Cook. President Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the district by 21 points last year; Franks did not face a Democratic opponent.
According to Arizona state law, a special election must be called if there is a vacancy more than six months before a scheduled election.
The names of possible Republican successors include Kimberly Yee, a state representative currently running for the state treasurer, and Phil Lovas, a former state representative, according to multiple operatives of the Arizona Republican Party.
Ed O & # 39; Keefe contributed to this article.