WASHINGTON (KMSP) – While in Washington D.C. covering the resignation of Senator Al Franken, our Fox 9 crew encountered a different lawmaker facing a controversy of his own.
Outside their hotel room, Fox 9 reporter Tom Lyden noticed Republican Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona speaking on his cell phone.
Congressman Franks quietly announced his resignation Thursday after learning the House Ethics Committee was investigating how he asked two female staffers if they’d carry his child, as surrogates.
In a statement, he said such an investigation would become “distorted and sensationalized” and put his family, staff and colleague through “a hyperbolized public excoriation.” He said he would resign on January 31.
But listening in on his call, Fox 9 heard him talking to someone about getting $2 million to start a political action committee on the filibuster issue.
Fox 9 then asked Franks about the exchange on camera.
Tom Lyden: You are still in office and I heard you on the phone talking about setting up a $2 million PAC to go after the issue of the filibuster, is that proper for you to be doing while your still in office?
Congressman Franks: Well, that’s something I’m not going to discuss.
Lyden: But I heard you on the phone talking about soliciting $2 million for a PAC while you’re still in office, that seems to be an ethics violation?
Franks: No, I don’t think so.
Fox 9 called political science expert David Schultz of Hamline University who said, depending on who Franks was talking to, it wasn’t illegal under House rules, but it certainly might be unethical.
Then four hours after Fox 9 talked to Franks, he resigned, effective immediately, saying “Last night his wife was admitted to a hospital due to an on-going ailment.”
As Fox 9 ended the interview with Congressman Franks, it was a development he seemed to cryptically reference.
Lyden: “It just doesn’t sound right does it?
Franks: Well, you’ll probably get additional information.