Trent Franks

Last updated

Trent Franks
Trent Franks, official portrait, 114th Congress.jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona
In office
January 3, 2003 December 8, 2017
Preceded by Bob Stump (Redistricting)
Succeeded by Debbie Lesko
Constituency 2nd district (2003–2013)
8th district (2013–2017)
Member of the ArizonaHouseofRepresentatives
from the 20th district
In office
January 1985 January 1987
Servingwith Debbie McCune Davis
Preceded byGlenn Davis [1]
Succeeded byBobby Raymond
Personal details
Born (1957-06-19) June 19, 1957 (age 63)
Uravan, Colorado, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)
Josephine Franks(m. 1980)
Children2
Education Ottawa University

Trent Franks (born June 19, 1957) is a former American politician and businessman who served as the U.S. Representative for Arizona's 8th congressional district from 2003 to 2017. He is a member of the Republican Party. The 8th district, numbered as the 2nd District from 2003 to 2013, is located in the West Valley portion of the Valley of the Sun and includes Glendale, Surprise, Sun City, Peoria and part of western Phoenix.

Contents

Congressman Franks served on the Judiciary and Armed Services Committees and was Vice Chairman of the Strategic (Nuclear) Forces Subcommittee, and Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the U.S. Constitution.

He was a chief proponent in Congress and is a prolife advocate in US for the protection of the preborn child. He was the original prime sponsor of the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act and the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act all three of which passed the U.S. House of Representatives with the latter becoming the first bill in history affording affirmative protection to the preborn child to pass either chamber of Congress.

On December 8, 2017, Franks resigned from Congress after confirming to Speaker Paul Ryan that a complaint the Speaker had received from one of Franks’ former staffers was true; that approximately one and a half years earlier, Franks had conversations with her and another staff member about the possibility of serving as a surrogate for him and his wife.

In October 2018, at the peak of the #MeToo movement, Franks personally apologized in writing to the former staffer who had made the complaint. In the apology, which she accepted, Franks unequivocally acknowledged that the discussions regarding surrogacy and infertility were wholly inappropriate for him to have had with any employee. Both the staff member and Franks also signed a joint reconciliation statement stating that there had never been any sexual contact between them, and that neither of them had ever made any statements of sexual or romantic interest toward the other. In the statement, they also both agreed that their discussions never included any financial negotiations or any offers of specific compensation, that Congressman Franks had never pressured or intimidated her, and that he had treated her fairly throughout her employment. Both "sincerely wished each other the best in life going forward". [2] [3] [4] [5]

Early life, education, and business career

Franks was born in Uravan, Colorado, a company town which is now a ghost town. Franks is the son of Juanita and Edward Taylor Franks. [6] He was born with a cleft lip and palate. After his parents separated, Franks took care of his younger siblings. While his parents took financial responsibility, he took on a leadership role at home. [7] Franks graduated from Briggsdale High School in Colorado in 1976. [8] After high school, Franks bought a drilling rig and moved to Texas to drill wells with his best friend and his younger brother. He moved to Arizona in 1981, where he continued to drill wells.

In 1987, he completed a course of study at the non-accredited Utah's National Center for Constitutional Studies, formerly known as the Freemen Institute. [9] For one year, from 1989 to 1990, he attended the Arizona campus of Ottawa University. [10]

Early political career

Arizona House of Representatives

In 1984, while working as an engineer for an oil and gas royalty-purchasing firm, Franks began his political career by running in a heavily Democrat district for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, against incumbent Democrat Glenn Davis. Franks, a life-long Prolife proponent, campaigned on a conservative "Reagan Republican" platform emphasizing stronger child protection laws as well as protecting unborn children and the overturning of Roe versus Wade. [11] He narrowly won the election by 155 votes. In the state legislature, Franks served as Vice-Chairman of the Commerce Committee and Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Child Protection and Family Preservation.

In November of  1988, Franks ran again for a legislative seat, moving to District 18 shortly before the filing deadline. He lost that election. [12]

Arizona Governor's Cabinet

In January 1987, he was appointed by Republican Governor Evan Mecham to head the Arizona Governor's Office for Children, which is a Cabinet-level division of the governor's office responsible for overseeing and coordinating state policy and programs for Arizona's children.

Franks then  founded the Arizona Family Research Institute, a nonprofit organization affiliated with James Dobson's Focus on the Family. He was the Executive Director of the organization for four and a half years. [13] He was successful in the Republican primary but lost in the November general election.

Political activism

In 1992, when Franks was chairman of Arizonans for Common Sense, one of the organization's efforts was a constitutional amendment on the November 1992 ballot to "protect most preborn children in Arizona from abortion on demand". [14] [15] The initiative lost, getting about 35 percent of the votes cast.

In August 1995, Arizonans for an Empowered Future, of which Franks was chairman, launched an initiative campaign to amend the state constitution, replacing the graduated state income tax with a flat 3.5 percent rate, and allowing parents to deduct the costs of private-school tuition. That effort was also unsuccessful. Later that year, Franks, became the original author and leading proponent of the successful passage of the Tuition Tax Credit Bill in Arizona. The first of its kind legislation was successfully upheld in the United States Supreme Court in 2011. Now duplicated in 15+ states, it has become the largest school choice mechanism in the nation having provided 500,000+ scholarships for children to attend secular or religious schools of their parent's choice.  The legislation has been appealed again to the US Supreme Court in Espinoza versus Montana pitting it against the Blaine amendments contained in most state constitutions. [16] The initiative was not one of those appearing on the ballot in 1996.

In 1996, Trent Franks, along with his brother, Lane Franks, founded Liberty Petroleum Corporation, a petroleum exploration company. [17] During that year Franks also served as a consultant and surrogate speaker for conservative activist Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign. [18] [19]

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

Franks at the 2011 Veterans Day parade in Phoenix, Arizona Trent Franks by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Franks at the 2011 Veterans Day parade in Phoenix, Arizona
1994

Franks ran for Arizona's 4th congressional district in 1994, after incumbent U.S. Representative Jon Kyl decided to run for the U.S. Senate. He lost to John Shadegg, 43%–30%. [20]

2002

Following the 2000 Census, [21] Arizona got two additional seats. [22] Franks' home in Glendale was drawn into the 2nd district. That district had previously been the 3rd District, represented by 13-term incumbent Republican Bob Stump, who was not running for reelection. The initial favorite in the race was Lisa Jackson Atkins, Stump's longtime chief of staff, whom Stump had endorsed as his successor. Atkins had long been very visible in the district (in contrast to her more low-key boss) to the point that many thought she was the district's representative. Franks narrowly defeated Atkins in the seven-candidate Republican primary, 28%–26%, a difference of just 797 votes. [23] [24] He won the November 2002 general election, defeating Democrat Randy Camacho, 60%–37%. [25] [26]

2004

Franks faced unusually strong competition in the Republican primary from the more moderate businessman Rick Murphy. Franks defeated him 64%–36%. [27] He won re-election to a second term, by defeating Camacho in a rematch, 59%–38%. [28]

2006

He won re-election to a third term with 59% of the vote. [29]

2008

He won re-election to a fourth term with 59% of the vote. [30]

2010

Franks was again challenged in the Republican primary. However, he easily defeated Charles Black, 81%–19%. [31] He won re-election to a fifth term with 65% of the vote. [32]

2012

For his first five terms, Franks represented a vast district encompassing most of northwestern Arizona. While the district appeared rural, the bulk of its population was in the West Valley, which had dominated the district since it was drawn into what was then the 3rd in 1967. The district appeared to be gerrymandered because of a narrow tendril connecting the Hopi reservation to the rest of the district. However, due to longstanding disputes between the Hopi and Navajo, it had long been believed the two tribes should be in separate districts.

However, after the 2010 census, Franks' district was renumbered as the 8th District, and reduced to essentially the Maricopa County portion of the old 2nd. As evidence of how much the West Valley had dominated the district, Franks retained 92 percent of his former constituents, even as he lost 85 percent of his old district's land. [33] He was challenged in the Republican primary by Tony Passalacqua, whom Franks defeated easily, 83%–17%. [34] The new 8th was no less Republican than the old 2nd, and Franks won a sixth term with 63% of the vote. [35]

2014
Congressman Franks speaking at a rally in November 2014 Trent Franks & Paul Gosar (15088251553).jpg
Congressman Franks speaking at a rally in November 2014

Franks won his party's election in the Republican primary on August 26, 2014.

Political positions

In 2009, National Journal ranked Franks among the "most conservative" members of the U.S. House of Representatives. [36] He was a member of the Republican Study Committee. [37]

Online gaming

In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act [38] [ non-primary source needed ] and H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. [39] [ non-primary source needed ]

Homeland security

On October 14, 2009, Franks joined with three other members of Congress in calling for the investigation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) over allegations of trying to plant "spies" based on a CAIR memo indicating that the group planned to "develop national initiatives such as Lobby day" and place "Muslim interns in Congressional offices." The request followed publication of the book Muslim Mafia . Representative Sue Myrick had written the foreword, which characterized CAIR as subversive and aligned with terrorists. [40] CAIR countered that these initiatives are extensively used by all advocacy groups and accused Franks and his colleagues of intending to intimidate American Muslims who "take part in the political process and exercise their rights." [41]

Taxes

Franks signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. [42] In 2010, Franks voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He received high approval ratings from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. [43] In November 2011, he voted to pass H.R. 2930, which authorizes crowdfunding for small businesses.[ citation needed ]

In 2009, Franks signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any global warming legislation that would raise taxes. [44]

Criticism of the Obama administration

He opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, saying "the thought of Americans' health care decisions being put into the hands of an unimaginably large bureaucracy is a frightening prospect." [45] [ non-primary source needed ] He was not supported by American Public Health Association or the Children's Health Fund. [46]

In September 2009, he called President Barack Obama an "enemy of humanity" with his spokesperson later clarifying the remarks were in response to President Obama's position on abortion. [47]

"A president that has lost his way that badly, that has no ability to see the image of God in these little fellow human beings, if he can't do that right, then he has no place in any station of government and we need to realise that he is an enemy of humanity," Mr Franks said to the "How to Take Back America" conference. [48] [49]

Abortion

In a 2010 interview, discussing the legacy of slavery which Franks described as a "crushing mark on America's soul", the congressman said, "Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery." [50] [51] [52] [53] [54]

In June 2013, he proposed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, without exceptions for rape and incest. In defense, he stirred controversy when saying that "the incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low." He later clarified, "Pregnancies from rape that result in abortion after the beginning of the sixth month are very rare." [55] [56] The bill passed by a vote of 228–196. [57]

In 2017, he again proposed the same bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks without exceptions for rape and incest. The bill passed by a vote of 237–189. [58]

Franks presided over a hearing to ban abortions after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia, in which he did not allow D.C.'s lone delegate and Member of Congress, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, to testify. In doing so, he said Congress has the authority to "exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever" in the District, even though the heavily Democratic district is strongly opposed to the ban. [59]

Franks has also been involved in the founding of a crisis pregnancy center in Tempe, Arizona, that's still in operation today. [60] In the past, Franks has picketed abortion clinics but has ceased to do so stating in a June 2013 interview that "It became clear to me that I could be more effective by trying to do something to light a candle rather than curse the darkness." [60]

Other

Franks in 2016 Trent Franks (29494349983).jpg
Franks in 2016

During the 2008 campaign, Franks stated that he is skeptical about global warming and other commonly accepted theories supported by the scientific community. Franks is a past chairman of the Children's Hope Scholarship Foundation. [61]

He opposes same-sex marriage. [62]

Franks supports the right to bear firearms. The interest group Gun Owners of America has given Franks high approval ratings. [63] In 2011, he voted to pass the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. [64] [65] Franks has also been active with Operation Smile. [66]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Legislation sponsored

Opponents of the bill gave several reasons why. Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA) was opposed to the bill because it would hurt job creation and break a promise to the Tohono O'odham tribe. [72] Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr. objected to the bill because it is "special interest legislation" that creates a "no-competition zone" for the two tribes that already have casinos in that area. [72]

Proponents of the bill included Gila River Indian Community Gov. Gregory Mendoza, who was in favor of the bill because he believes that the compact not to build more casinos needs to be respected. [72] The Tohono O’odham Nation argues that federal rules allows casinos on reservation land created after October 17, 1988 if they are part of a settlement of a land claim. The Nation claims the West Valley land is partial replacement to settle a claim for the 10,000 acres (40 km2) of its lands that were flooded as a result of the construction of the Painted Rock Dam on the Gila River. [75]

Ultimately, the amendment was defeated 217–208, with 27 House Republicans joining all the House Democrats in voting in opposition. [78]

Electoral history

Arizona House of Representatives 20th District Election, 1984
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticDebbie McCune (inc.)15,57530.66
RepublicanTrent Franks13,16625.92
DemocraticGlenn Davis (inc.)12,93725.47
Republican Richard Adams 9,12517.96
Arizona House of Representatives 20th District Election, 1986
PartyCandidateVotes%
DemocraticDebbie McCune (inc.)13,86632.24
DemocraticBobby Raymond10,25823.85
RepublicanTrent Franks (inc.)10,06323.40
RepublicanGeorgia Hargan8,82520.52
Arizona's 4th Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 1994
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanJohn Shadegg26,48943.10
RepublicanTrent Franks18,57430.22
RepublicanJim Bruner12,71820.69
RepublicanJoan Jugloff3,6785.98
Arizona's 2nd Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2002
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanTrent Franks14,74927.66
RepublicanLisa Atkins13,95226.17
RepublicanJohn Keegan10,56019.81
RepublicanScott Bundgaard8,70116.32
RepublicanDusko Jovicic3,8057.14
RepublicanMike Schaefer9331.75
RepublicanDick Hensky6181.16
Arizona's 2nd Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2004
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanTrent Franks (inc.)45,26163.63
Republican Rick Murphy 25,87136.37
Arizona's 2nd Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2010
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanTrent Franks (inc.)81,25280.87
RepublicanCharles Black19,22019.13
Arizona's 2nd congressional district : Results 2002–2010 [82]
YearDemocraticVotesPctRepublicanVotesPct3rd partyPartyVotesPct3rd partyPartyVotesPct
2002 Randy Camacho 61,21736.55%Trent Franks100,35959.92%Edward R. Carlson Libertarian 5,9193.53%*
2004 Randy Camacho 107,40638.46%Trent Franks165,26059.17%Powell Gammill Libertarian 6,6252.37%*
2006 John Thrasher89,67138.89%Trent Franks135,15058.62%Powell Gammill Libertarian 5,7342.49%*
2008 John Thrasher125,61137.16%Trent Franks200,91459.44%Powell Gammill Libertarian 7,8822.33%William Crum Green 3,6161.07%
2010 John Thrasher82,89131.06%Trent Franks173,17364.89%Powell Gammill Libertarian 10,8204.05%*
Arizona's 8th Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2012
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanTrent Franks (inc.)57,25783.17
RepublicanTony Passalacqua11,57216.81
Republican/Write-inHelmuth Hack180.03
Arizona's 8th congressional district : Results 2012 [83]
YearDemocraticVotesPctRepublicanVotesPct3rd partyPartyVotesPct
2012 Gene Scharer95,63535.05%Trent Franks172,80963.34%Stephen DolgosAmericans Elect4,3471.59%
Arizona's 8th Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2014
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Trent Franks (inc.)53,77173.26
RepublicanClair Van Steenwyk19,62926.74
Total73,400100
Arizona's 8th Congressional District Election, 2014
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Trent Franks (inc.)128,71075.81%
Americans ElectStephen Dolgos41,06624.19%
Total169,776100.00%

Personal life

Franks and his wife, Josephine, have been married since 1980; they are members of the North Phoenix Baptist Church. [84] Franks' wife, Josephine, is an immigrant. [85]

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Arizona House of Representatives
Preceded by
Glen Davis
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 20th district

1985–1987
Succeeded by
Bobby Raymond
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ed Pastor
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 2nd congressional district

2003–2013
Succeeded by
Ron Barber
Preceded by
Ron Barber
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 8th congressional district

2013–2017
Succeeded by
Debbie Lesko