His office put out a statement this afternoon announcing that his resignation would be effective immediately instead of as of January 31, the date he announced last night. The reason given was that his wife is in the hospital with an “ongoing ailment” but political junkies began side-eyeing each other on social media, suspecting that Franks found out another shoe was about to drop and wanted to get out of dodge before having to answer any questions about it.

The shoe has dropped. The statement he issued last night acknowledged that he had asked staffers about possibly serving as surrogate mothers for him and his wife. What it didn’t mention is that at least one staffer took him to mean that conception might be achieved through, shall we say, direct means.

There’s a word that describes offering someone money for intercourse, no?

The sources said Franks approached two female staffers about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife, who has struggled with fertility issues for years. But the aides were concerned that Franks was asking to have sexual relations with them. It was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization. Franks opposes abortion rights as well as procedures that discard embryos.

A former staffer also alleged that Franks tried to persuade a female aide that they were in love by having her read an article that described how a person knows they’re in love with someone, the sources said. One woman believed she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks. While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders.

It wasn’t clear? Hmmm. The AP adds this detail:

A former aide to Republican Rep. Trent Franks has told The Associated Press the congressman repeatedly pressed her to carry his child, at one point offering her $ 5 million to act as a surrogate

The former staffer said the congressman asked at least four times if she’d be willing to act as a surrogate in exchange for money. Franks, in his statement announcing his resignation, said he and his wife have struggled with infertility.

Asking a staffer once if you can plant your love potato in her lady-garden is highly inappropriate. Asking her *four times* if you can toss your man-waffle into her she-toaster sounds like obvious harassment. One question, though: Is it … possible that Franks was being sincere about surrogacy and the staffers misunderstood his intentions? Politico’s headline when its story was first published was “Female aides said Franks suggested intercourse to impregnate them.” Scandalous. But read the excerpt above again. The aides actually weren’t sure what he was suggesting. The headline now reads more cautiously, “Female aides fretted Franks wanted to have sex to impregnate them.” The request was improper either way but Franks’s intentions may matter a lot to his life after Congress. If he badgered staffers to help him and his wife have a baby and they mistook it as him pleading for sex, then his marriage may survive. If he was in fact asking them for intercourse and using surrogacy as a disingenuous pretext, to couch the act as being in service to something more wholesome, then it might not. That’s solicitation of prostitution. Not a good look for a married man, let alone a stalwart social conservative.

I don’t know what to make of the detail about him trying to “persuade a female aide that they were in love.” That certainly points to prurient interest in his staffers. But tell me this. No matter how sheltered and awkward Franks might be, surely he understood that he could purchase sex outside his office for way, way, way less than five million farking dollars. The sheer magnitude of the sum makes me think that he was earnestly interested in surrogacy, not intercourse. But stay tuned. There’s probably more coming.

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