U.S. Representative Trent Franks said on Friday that he would resign from Congress effective immediately, instead of the Jan. 31 date he previously had set following the announcement of a probe into accusations of sexual harassment against him.
"Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C., due to an ongoing ailment. After discussing options with my family, we came to the conclusion that the best thing for our family now would be for me to tender my previous resignation effective today, December 8th, 2017," Franks said in an emailed statement.
Late on Thursday, Franks, who has represented a district in the Phoenix, Arizona, area since 2003, issued a statement saying that two women on his staff complained that he had discussed with them his efforts to find a surrogate mother, but he denied he had ever "physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff."
The news website Politico on Friday quoted unnamed sources that it was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating them through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization.
The Associated Press reported that a former aide to Franks said the congressman offered her $5 million to carry his child.
Reuters has not confirmed either report.
The House of Representatives Ethics Committee said on Thursday it had opened an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment against Franks.
The 60-year-old lawmaker also said that he and his wife "have long struggled with infertility."
Franks' departure comes just days after Democratic Representative John Conyers of Michigan announced his immediate retirement amid sexual harassment allegations that he has denied.
On Thursday, Democratic Senator Al Franken announced on the Senate floor that he too would resign his Minnesota seat amid harassment claims.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Sandra Maler and Clive McKeef)