2017 has been a crazy year for a lot of reasons, but the resignations from members of both the House and the Senate have been both a cause and a symptom of this craziness. Bipartisan resignations have rocked both houses of Congress. While some have already been resolved through special elections, others will lead to special elections in early 2018, an already heavy midterm election year. In case you’ve gotten a bit lost on all the resignations in 2017, let us break it down for you.
Senator Al Franken (D-MN)
Senator Al Franken became the subject of much controversy when a photo came out of him sexual touching an unconscious woman. In the following days, more women spoke out, saying they had been harassed and assaulted by Franken. Initially, Franken apologized for the actions verified in the photo, but that was not enough. Numerous people, including his fellow Democratic senators, called on him to resign, and he did so in early December 2017. He is officially leaving Congress on January 2nd. The Governor of Minnesota announced he would be replaced by Lt. Governor Tina Smith until a special election is held. Smith will serve until at least January 2019.
Senator John Conyers (D-MI)
The longest serving sitting congressman, John Conyers of Michigan, resigned from Congress in early December. He announced that he wants his son to replace him. Conyers was accused of sexual harassment and paid a $27,000 settlement to a former employee. The Republican Governor of Michigan will call a special election for the seat next November. It is unclear if he will select a temporary replacement for Conyers in the meantime.
Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ)
In what is definitely the most bizarre resignation of 2017, Trent Franks announced in early December that he would be stepping down from his position representing Arizona. Harassment claims arose from two women in his office who claimed that Franks talked to them about surrogacy since he and his wife had just welcomed twins through a surrogacy. According to one of them, they were concerned that Franks was implying he should have sexual intercourse with them to make a baby. He also offered $5 million dollars. He will step down at the end of January. The primary for the special election will be held February 27th and the general election April 24th.
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
The first resignation of 2017 came from Jason Chaffetz of Utah who announced in May that he would resign at the end of June. He then promptly joined Fox News as a contributor. Chaffetz stressed in his resignation announcement that he had never viewed his time in Congress as a lifetime career and that he and his wife Julie had agreed that it was time for him to move on from the job. His replacement, John Curtis, a fellow Republican, was chosen in November 2017.