Trent Franks

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Trent Franks
Trent Franks, official portrait, 114th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 8th district
In office
January 3, 2013 – December 8, 2017
Preceded by Ron Barber
Succeeded by Vacant
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Ed Pastor
Succeeded by Ron Barber
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 20th district
In office
January 1985 – January 1987
Preceded by Glenn Davis
Succeeded by Bobby Raymond
Personal details
Born Harold Trent Franks
(1957-06-19) June 19, 1957 (age 61)
Uravan, Colorado, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Josephine Franks
Children 2
Education Ottawa University

Harold Trent Franks (born June 19, 1957) is a former U.S. Representative for Arizona's 8th congressional district, serving in Congress from 2003-2017. He is a member of the Republican Party. The 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.

On December 8, 2017, Franks resigned from Congress after the House Ethics Committee announced that it would investigate him for a conversation regarding surrogacy with two female staff members.[1] Franks denied any sexual misconduct, but said the way he approached the conversations with his staff members was "clearly insensitive".[2]

Early life, education, and business career

Franks was born in Uravan, Colorado, a company town, the son of Juanita and Edward Taylor Franks.[3] 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 overtook the leadership role at home.[4] Franks graduated from Briggsdale High School in Colorado in 1976.[5] 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, National Center for Constitutional Studies, formerly known as the Freemen Institute, in Utah.[6] For one year, from 1989 to 1990, he attended the Arizona campus of Ottawa University, based in Ottawa, Kansas.[7] In September 2004, Franks told Franchising World that he had been a small business owner for more than 25 years.[8]. He is one of the richest congressman with a reported net worth of 20+ million. [9]

Early political career

Arizona legislature

In 1984, while working as an engineer for an oil and gas royalty-purchasing firm, he began his political career by running for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, against incumbent Democrat Glen Davis, an attorney, in District 20 in central Phoenix. Franks, who was a member of the Arizona Right to Life organization and president of the Arizona Christian Action Council, campaigned against abortion and in favor of tougher child abuse laws. He defeated Davis by 155 votes.[10] 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.

Franks was defeated in his re-election bid in November 1986.[11]

Mecham administration

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.

In late 1987, Franks founded the Arizona Family Research Institute, a nonprofit organization affiliated with James Dobson's Focus on the Family.[12] He was the Executive Director of the organization for four and a half years.[13]

In April 1988, after Mecham was impeached and removed from office, Franks and other appointees resigned their positions. Franks had been under investigation following an Associated Press report about his decision to spend nearly $60,000, without getting bids, for a conference at a former campaign contributor's hotel.[14] Later in 1988, Franks ran again for a legislative seat, moving to District 18 shortly before the filing deadline.[15] 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 in Arizona that banned most abortions.[16][17] 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.[18] The initiative was not one of those appearing on the ballot in 1996.

Franks worked for and later became president of Liberty Petroleum Corporation,[19] a small oil exploration company established in 1996.[20] Franks served as a consultant to conservative activist Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign.[21]

U.S. House of Representatives


Franks at the 2011 Veterans Day parade in Phoenix, Arizona.

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%.[22]


Following the 2000 Census,[23] Arizona got two additional seats.[24] Franks decided to run in 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.[25][26] He won the November 2002 general election, defeating Democrat Randy Camacho, 60%–37%.[12][27]


Franks faced unusually strong competition in the Republican primary from the more moderate businessman Rick Murphy. Franks defeated him 64%–36%.[28] He won re-election to a second term, by defeating Camacho in a rematch, 59%–38%.[29]


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


He won re-election to a fourth term with 59% of the vote.[31]


Franks was again challenged in the Republican primary. However, he easily defeated Charles Black, 81%–19%.[32] He won re-election to a fifth term with 65% of the vote.[33]


For his first five terms, Franks represented a vast district encompassing most of northwestern Arizona, though the bulk of its population was in the West Valley. It 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 his old district. As evidence of how much the West Valley dominated the old 2nd, Franks retained 92 percent of his former constituents, even as he lost 85 percent of his old district's land.[34] He was challenged in the Republican primary by Tony Passalacqua, whom Franks defeated easily, 83%–17%.[35] The new 8th was no less Republican than the old 2nd, and Franks won a sixth term with 63% of the vote.[36]

Congressman Franks speaking at a rally in August 2014.

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


The National Journal has ranked Franks among the "most conservative" members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009.[37] He is a member of the Republican Study Committee.[38]

Online gaming

Franks is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act[39] and H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[40]

Homeland security

On October 14, 2009, Franks joined with three fellow Representatives 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 they "will develop national initiatives such as Lobby Day, and placing 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.[41] CAIR has 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."[42][43]


Franks is a signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[44] In 2010, Franks voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He has high approval ratings from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.[45] In November 2011, he voted to pass H.R. 2930, which authorizes crowdfunding for small businesses.

In 2009 Franks signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.[46]

Criticism of the Obama administration

He opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, claiming "the thought of Americans' health care decisions being put into the hands of an unimaginably large bureaucracy is a frightening prospect."[47] He is not supported by American Public Health Association or the Children's Health Fund.[48]

In September 2009, he stirred controversy when criticizing President Barack Obama. He said "Obama's first act as president of any consequence, in the middle of a financial meltdown, was to send taxpayers' money overseas to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries. Now, I got to tell you, if a president will do that, there's almost nothing that you should be surprised at after that. We shouldn't be shocked that he does all these other insane things. 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 realize that he is an enemy of humanity."[49]


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]


During the 2008 campaign, Franks stated that he is skeptical about global warming.[61]

He opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.[62]

Franks supports the right to bear firearms. The interest group, Gun Owners of America, have given Franks high approval ratings.[63] In 2011, he voted to pass the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act.[64]

Franks has also been active with Operation Smile.[65]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Legislation sponsored

  • On July 14, 2017, Franks introduced Amendment No. 13 to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018.[68] The amendment called for a database surveying American Muslim leaders in order to identify violent and "unorthodox" strains of Islam. Critics of the amendment, including, most notably, Minnesota Democratic congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, repudiated the amendment as an attempt to subject one religion to special scrutiny.[69] Franks rejected the charge by acknowledging that radical Islamist groups victimize Muslims more than any other religious group.[70] Ultimately, the amendment was defeated 217-208, with 27 House Republicans joining all the House Democrats in voting in opposition.[71]


On December 7, 2017, reports surfaced that Franks was being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for "credible claims of misconduct".[1] According to reports, Franks and his wife were struggling with infertility and Franks asked two female staff members if they would consider serving as surrogate mothers for Franks and his wife.[72] In a statement, Franks detailed their struggle with infertility, and said, "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."[73] He wrote, "I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff," but said he would resign effective January 31, 2018, because the "collective focus on a very important problem of justice and sexual impropriety" and he was "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."[73] The following day, Franks's wife was admitted to the hospital "due to an ongoing ailment", so Franks decided to resign effective immediately.[74]

Electoral history

Arizona House of Representatives 20th District Election, 1984
Party Candidate Votes  %
Democratic Debbie McCune (inc.) 15,575 30.66
Republican Trent Franks 13,166 25.92
Democratic Glenn Davis (inc.) 12,937 25.47
Republican Richard Adams 9,125 17.96
Arizona House of Representatives 20th District Election, 1986
Party Candidate Votes  %
Democratic Debbie McCune (inc.) 13,866 32.24
Democratic Bobby Raymond 10,258 23.85
Republican Trent Franks (inc.) 10,063 23.40
Republican Georgia Hargan 8,825 20.52
Arizona's 4th Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 1994
Party Candidate Votes  %
Republican John Shadegg 26,489 43.10
Republican Trent Franks 18,574 30.22
Republican Jim Bruner 12,718 20.69
Republican Joan Jugloff 3,678 5.98
Arizona's 2nd Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes  %
Republican Trent Franks 14,749 27.66
Republican Lisa Atkins 13,952 26.17
Republican John Keegan 10,560 19.81
Republican Scott Bundgaard 8,701 16.32
Republican Dusko Jovicic 3,805 7.14
Republican Mike Schaefer 933 1.75
Republican Dick Hensky 618 1.16
Arizona's 2nd Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes  %
Republican Trent Franks (inc.) 45,261 63.63
Republican Rick Murphy 25,871 36.37
Arizona's 2nd Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes  %
Republican Trent Franks (inc.) 81,252 80.87
Republican Charles Black 19,220 19.13
Arizona's 2nd congressional district: Results 2002–2010[75]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2002 Randy Camacho 61,217 36.55% Trent Franks 100,359 59.92% Edward R. Carlson Libertarian 5,919 3.53% *
2004 Randy Camacho 107,406 38.46% Trent Franks 165,260 59.17% Powell Gammill Libertarian 6,625 2.37% *
2006 John Thrasher 89,671 38.89% Trent Franks 135,150 58.62% Powell Gammill Libertarian 5,734 2.49% *
2008 John Thrasher 125,611 37.16% Trent Franks 200,914 59.44% Powell Gammill Libertarian 7,882 2.33% William Crum Green 3,616 1.07%
2010 John Thrasher 82,891 31.06% Trent Franks 173,173 64.89% Powell Gammill Libertarian 10,820 4.05% *
Arizona's 8th Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes  %
Republican Trent Franks (inc.) 57,257 83.17
Republican Tony Passalacqua 11,572 16.81
Republican/Write-in Helmuth Hack 18 0.03
Arizona's 8th congressional district: Results 2012[76]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2012 Gene Scharer 95,635 35.05% Trent Franks 172,809 63.34% Stephen Dolgos Americans Elect 4,347 1.59%
Arizona's 8th Congressional District Republican Primary Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes  %
Republican Trent Franks (inc.) 53,771 73.26
Republican Clair Van Steenwyk 19,629 26.74
Total 73,400 100
Arizona's 8th Congressional District Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes  %
Republican Trent Franks (inc.) 128,710 75.81%
Americans Elect Stephen Dolgos 41,066 24.19%
Total 169,776 100.00%

Personal life

Franks and his wife, Josephine, have been married since 1980; they are members of the North Phoenix Baptist Church.[77] Franks' wife, Josephine, is an immigrant.[78] In August 2008, a donor egg and surrogate were used to give birth to their twins, Joshua Lane and Emily Grace.[79][80][81][82]

Franks is a past chairman of the Children's Hope Scholarship Foundation.[83]


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  76. United States House of Representatives elections in Arizona, 2012
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  78. "How Many Latinos Serve In Congress? Depends On Whom You Ask". Fox News. 2013-02-05. Retrieved 2017-02-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  79. "Trent Franks – Arizona – Bio, News, Photos – Washington Times". The Washington Times. 2012. Archived from the original on October 26, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2013. [...] Franks and his wife, Josephine, have two children. [...]<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  80. Kelly, Chris (June 28, 2013). "Trent Franks Killed a Limited Number of His Own Unborn Children". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 21, 2013. [...] Trent Franks and his wife Josie have two lovely children, conceived through in vitro fertilization, carried by a surrogate, and legally transferred by a notary in Tucson, just like it says to do in the Song of Songs. [...]<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  81. "Biographical and Introduction Information". Trent Franks for Congress. Retrieved October 21, 2013. [...] After struggling to have children of their own for more than two decades, Trent and his husband Frank are now the deeply grateful parents of two precious Gifts of God; four-year-old twins, Joshua Lane and Emily Grace. [...]<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  82. "Trent Franks – Biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 21, 2013. [...] Father of twins, born in August 2008, via a donor egg and surrogate. [...]<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  83. "Congressman Trent Franks Scheduled to Speak at Northwest Christian Commencement Ceremony". Northwest Christian School Newsletter. 3 (22). Phoenix, Arizona. May 22, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2013. [...] Trent Franks is past Chairman of the Children's Hope Scholarship Foundation and a Republican Member of The United States Congress. [...]<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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

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

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