Category Archives: Primaries

Creepy Trent Franks’ resignation effective immediately after more details emerge

My Spidey senses tingling were correct, there was more to Rep. Trent Franks sudden resignation — and I don’t believe the latest reporting is the full story either (there have been rumors circulating about him for years). Politico reports, Female aides fretted Franks wanted to have sex to impregnate them:

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks allegedly made unwanted advances toward female staffers in his office and retaliated against one who rebuffed him, according to House GOP sources with knowledge of a complaint against him.

The allegations, which reached Speaker Paul Ryan and top GOP leaders in recent days, led to Franks’ sudden resignation this week. Franks originally announced that he would resign on Jan. 31, 2018. But just hours after POLITICO inquired about the allegations, he sped up his resignation and left office Friday.

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 While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders.

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Rep. Trent Franks to resign from Congress, special election to be called

Arizona’s Christian Right congressman Trent Franks (8th Congressional District) unexpectedly announced his pending resignation from Congress on Thursday after creeping out two staff members in his office by talking about surrogate pregnancy for he and his wife.

It is not at all clear from published reports whether Franks approached these two staffers about becoming the surrogate. That would give this story an entirely different context.

Rep. Franks told reporters that he would let his statement speak for him, which attempts to frame the incident in a light most favorable to him. (My Spidey senses are tingling that there is more to this story):

Franks’ full statement:

I have always tried to create a very warm and supportive atmosphere for every last person who has ever worked in my congressional office. It is my deepest conviction that there are many staffers, former and present, who would readily volunteer to substantiate this fact.

Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.

However, I do want to take full and personal responsibility for the ways I have broached a topic that, unbeknownst to me until very recently, made certain individuals uncomfortable. And so, I want to shed light on how those conversations came about.

My wife and I have long struggled with infertility. We experienced three miscarriages.

We pursued adoption on more than one occasion only to have the adoptive mothers in each case change their mind prior to giving birth.

A wonderful and loving lady, to whom we will be forever grateful, acted as a gestational surrogate for our twins and was able to carry them successfully to live birth. The process by which they were conceived was a pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos.

My son and daughter are unspeakable gifts of God that have brought us our greatest earthly happiness in the 37 years we have been married.

When our twins were approximately 3 years old, we made a second attempt with a second surrogate who was also not genetically related to the child. Sadly, that pregnancy also resulted in miscarriage.

We continued to have a desire to have at least one additional sibling, for which our children had made repeated requests.

Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.

I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable. I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.

We are in an unusual moment in history – there is collective focus on a very important problem of justice and sexual impropriety. It is so important that we get this right for everyone, especially for victims. 

But in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation. Rather than allow a sensationalized trial by media damage those things I love most, this morning I notified House leadership that I will be leaving Congress as of January 31st, 2018. It is with the greatest sadness, that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the battle I have spent over three decades fighting. I hope my resignation will remain distinct from the great gains we have made. My time in Congress serving my constituents, America and the Constitution is and will remain one of God’s greatest gift to me in life.

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Rep. Martha McSally, Donald Trump’s ‘twin sister’

Remember this from this past July? Rep. Martha McSally reveals her uncomfortable position in the Trump era:

A secretly recorded tape of U.S. Rep. Martha McSally talking to potential donors offers a rare glimpse into what the two-term Tucson Republican is thinking in the current political climate.

During the 63-minute recording made in late May at a closed-door meeting in Tucson, McSally tells the Arizona Bankers Association that since January, her critics have painted her with the same brush as President Trump.

“There’s just an element out there that’s just, like, so against the president. Like they just can’t see straight. And all of a sudden on January 20, I’m like his twin sister,” she said, in audio that was recently posted online by a grassroots political group called Indivisible Southern Arizona.

That was then, this is now.  Apparently McSally has been to a Breitbart reeducation camp, because she is now making an explicit effort to appear to be Trump’s twin sister in a sadly pathetic attempt to gain Trump’s fickle endorsement for Senate.

Tim Steller of the Arizona Daily Star reports, Steller’s Friday Notebook: McSally pivots to pro-Trump position:

For some time, I’ve suspected that Rep. Martha McSally is angling for an endorsement from President Trump as she considers jumping into the U.S. Senate race — maybe even as a condition for running.

That would give her a big advantage over the top GOP candidate in the race now, Kelli Ward, who is a devoted fan of the president and was endorsed by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

I can’t say I’ve confirmed this is what McSally is doing, but on Thursday, she offered one more piece of evidence for the theory. McSally’s Twitter account put out a picture of her with Trump, each with an arm around the other, each giving a thumbs up.

McSally’s text said: “Great meeting with President @realDonaldTrump this a.m. to discuss our tax cuts that will bring relief to hard-working American families!”

This was the fourth tweet naming the president that McSally has posted since Nov. 8; her entire Twitter history shows only one Tweet naming Trump before that.

On Nov. 8, a day I think we may look back on as the day McSally actually began running for Senate, she posted a picture of herself with the president’s older daughter. The text of the tweet said, “Discussing our plan to cut taxes, create jobs & deliver relief to American families w/@IvankaTrump. Let’s get it to @realDonaldTrump’s desk.”

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Rep. Martha McSally is still being coy about senate run

Rep. Martha McSally continues to toy with the idea of running for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jeff Flake, but she has yet to make a public announcement. The Arizona Daily Star reports, US Rep. Martha McSally tells House colleagues she’s running for Senate:

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally has told Republican colleagues that she’s running for Sen. Jeff Flake’s open seat next year, meaning there will be someone new representing Southern Arizona’s hotly contested Congressional District 2.

The news didn’t come from McSally but instead from U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, a Republican colleague in Congressional District 6, who confirmed to reporters for several news outlets that the retired Air Force colonel said she was planning to enter the Senate race.

McSally could not be reached for comment and has not made a formal announcement about her plans. Calls to her campaign office, as well as to her congressional office in Tucson, went unreturned Tuesday.

Geezus, she’s still hiding in the chicken bunker. Come out, come out, and face your constituents, Martha.

Former state Sen. Kelli Ward and several other Republican candidates have already announced they were running for Flake’s seat in the GOP primary.

McSally is already facing resistance from President Trump supporters. Last week, the Great America Alliance PAC put out a digital ad (Amnesty Martha) and dedicated website amnestymartha.com that criticized McSally for “supporting amnesty for illegals.”

Ward challenged Sen. John McCain last year and lost, but Trump has offered support for her candidacy even though he did not endorse her. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, however, endorsed Ward last month.

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GOP civil war, or triumph of the will to a Trump authoritarian cult of personality?

Steve Benen noted the other day The unusual nature of the Republican Party’s ‘civil war’:

[T]he Republican Party is apparently experiencing one of those weird civil wars in which everyone agrees with one another.

* * *

It’s probably safe to say the three most vocal Trump critics among Senate Republicans are John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Bob Corker, each of whom have gone to surprising lengths recently to express their contempt for the president. But if we consider their voting record, McCain has voted with Trump 84% of the time this year. Corker has voted with the president’s position 86% of the time. With Flake, the number rises to 90%.

Tallies like these hint at a possible contradiction: if the Republican trio were really offended by Trump, they wouldn’t keep voting the way he wants them to.

And while there may be something to this, it’s worth appreciating what makes the GOP’s civil war so bizarre: the factions are divided by style, tone, and demeanor, but when it comes to public policy, they’re all roughly on the same page.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post follows up today, The Trump authoritarian cult:

The Glorious Republican Civil War of 2017 isn’t really a battle over policy or ideology. It isn’t even quite the clash of grand agendas we constantly read about — the supposed showdown between populist economic nationalism on one side, and limited government conservatism, free trade and internationalism on the other.

Instead, the GOP civil war is really a battle over whether Republican lawmakers should — or should not — genuflect before President Trump. The battle is over whether they should — or should not — applaud his racism, his authoritarianism and his obvious pleasure in dispensing abuse and sowing racial division. It’s also over whether Republicans should submit to Trump’s ongoing insistence that his lack of major accomplishments is fully the fault of Republicans who failed his greatness.

The Post reports that allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have hit on a new strategy for countering Stephen K. Bannon’s insurgency. Bannon’s challengers are running on the idea that they constitute the true bearers of the Trumpist banner against a GOP establishment that has allegedly betrayed Trumpism. The strategy is to walk a careful line, avoiding attacking Trump while linking Bannon’s version of Trumpism “to white nationalism to discredit him and the candidates he will support.”

The notion that the GOP civil war is really about whether to genuflect to Trump’s racism and authoritarianism helps resolve some glaring disconnects in our politics that make little sense under any other interpretation.

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Rep. Martha McSally considering run for Flake’s Senate seat

Rep. Martha McSally is frequently mentioned as the heir apparent to Senator John McCain. But her ambitions are too great to wait for McCain to step down or to die from his brain cancer, either of which are real possibilities before next November’s election (Arizona very well could have two senate races in 2018, one of them a special election for the remainder of McCain’s term).

U.S. News & World Report reports Razing Arizona: McSally Eyeing GOP Senate Battle:

Congresswoman Martha McSally

Rep. Martha McSally is taking steps toward launching a challenge to Kelli Ward for Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat next year, a move that would set up another scorched-earth primary battle between establishment Republicans and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon [the white nationalist attack dog for far-right extremists Robert and Rebekah Mercer].

The second-term congresswoman indicated her interest in the seat during a closed-door meeting Thursday with Arizona’s five-member GOP House delegation, and also met Thursday with Sen. John McCain to consult about a statewide contest, an Arizona Republican with knowledge of the situation says. Even before that, she began polling her prospects.

“She wants to lay down a marker immediately,” the Arizona source says. “She hates the House.”

Not long after Flake’s retirement announcement Tuesday, White House officials began reaching out to Arizona’s GOP lawmakers to field interest in the seat, two separate sources tell U.S. News – a clear indication of their aversion to Ward.

Reps. Trent Franks and Paul Gosar, two conservative House members, have publicly ruled out bids. And Rep. David Schweikert, a four-term congressman and member of the House Freedom Caucus, quickly declined the overture.

The office he’s most interested in running for is governor in 2022,” Schweikert spokesman Kevin Knight says.

The two GOP sources say the winnowing field makes McSally, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel first elected in 2014, the front-runner to become the consensus candidate of lawmakers and donors. While McSally has not yet made a decision, one congressional aide says based on the congresswoman’s initial conversations with colleagues this week, she’s expected to run.

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