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Franken and Franks resign as misconduct charges batter Congress

Franken and Franks resign as misconduct charges batter Congress
From Reuters - December 7, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic Senator Al Franken announced his resignation on Thursday after facing a series of sexual misconduct allegations, and Republican Representative Trent Franks also said he was stepping down as he too was hit with ethics charges.

Franken, buffeted for weeks by sexual harassment charges and under pressure from party colleagues, said on the Senate floor he would leave in a few weeks, although he denied some of the allegations against him and questioned others.

The 66-year-old former comedian from Minnesota had been seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party.

I know in my heart that nothing Ive done as a senator - nothing - has brought dishonor on this institution, he said. Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.

Hours later, Franks announced his resignation after two former staff members complained about discussions he had with them about his efforts to find a surrogate mother.

I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress, said Franks, who was first elected to his Arizona congressional seat in 2002 and is an outspoken opponent of abortion.

Franks said in a statement that he and his wife have long struggled with infertility.

The developments came with Congress already held in low regard by voters. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, only 20 percent approved of the way Congress was handling its job, with 70 percent disapproving.

In recent weeks, charges of sexual misconduct have taken down prominent people in the worlds of entertainment, media and politics.

It is somewhat rare for members of the Senate or House of Representatives to resign from office, but veteran Democratic Representative John Conyers also resigned earlier this week amid sexual harassment accusations that he has denied.

The House Ethics Committee said on Thursday it was investigating yet another lawmaker. Blake Farenthold, a Republican representative from Texas, faces allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation involving a former female staff member.

Franken has the highest profile of the lawmakers hit by allegations in the past few weeks.

Reuters has not independently verified the accusations against Franken, Franks, Conyers or Farenthold.

SENATE BALANCE OF POWER

Frankens seat will initially be filled by a Democrat appointed by Minnesotas Democratic governor, meaning theRepublicans slim majority in the Senate will not change.

Allegations that Franken had groped and tried to kiss women without their consent began to surface three weeks ago.

He initially said he was embarrassed and ashamed by his behavior but would not resign.

SEEKING THE HIGH GROUND

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