Trent Franks

Trent Franks
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 8th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Ron Barber
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 Glen Davis
Succeeded by Bobby Raymond
Personal details
Born (1957-06-19) June 19, 1957
Uravan, Colorado, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Josephine Franks
Children 2
Alma mater Ottawa University(attended; did not graduate)
Religion Southern Baptist[1]

Trent Franks (born June 19, 1957) is the U.S. Representative for Arizona's 8th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2003. 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.

Early life, education, and business career

Franks was born in Uravan, Colorado, a company town, the son of Juanita and Edward Taylor Franks.[2] 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.[3] Franks graduated from Briggsdale High School in Colorado in 1976.[4] 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.[3]

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.[5] For one year, from 1989 to 1990, he attended the Arizona campus of Ottawa University, based in Ottawa, Kansas.[6] In September 2004, Franks told Franchising World that he had been a small business owner for more than 25 years.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] He was the Executive Director of the organization for four and a half years.[11]

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.[12] Later in 1988, Franks ran again for a legislative seat, moving to District 18 shortly before the filing deadline.[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 in Arizona that banned most abortions.[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.[16] The initiative was not one of those appearing on the ballot in 1996.

Franks worked for and later became president of Liberty Petroleum Corporation,[17] a small oil exploration company established in 1996.[18] Franks served as a consultant to conservative activist Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign.[19]

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%.[20]


Following the 2000 Census,[21] Arizona got two additional seats.[22] Franks decided to run in the newly redrawn Arizona's 2nd congressional district. The district, which had previously been the 3rd district, had come open after 13-term incumbent Bob Stump had announced his retirement. 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%.[10][25]


Franks faced unusually strong competition in the Republican primary from the more moderate businessman Rick Murphy. Franks defeated him 64%–36%.[26] He won re-election to a second term, by defeating Camacho in a rematch, 59%–38%.[27]


He won re-election to a third term with 59% of the vote.[28]


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


Franks was again challenged in the Republican primary. However, he easily defeated Charles Black, 81%–19%.[30] He won re-election to a fifth term with 65% of the vote.[31]


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.[32] He was challenged in the Republican primary by Tony Passalacqua, whom Franks defeated easily, 83%–17%.[33] The new 8th was no less Republican than the old 2nd, and Franks won a sixth term with 63% of the vote.[34]

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.[35] He is a member of the Republican Study Committee. Franks has also been active with Operation Smile.

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[36] and H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[37]

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.[38] 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."[39][40]


Franks is a signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[41] In 2010, Franks voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He has high approval ratings from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.[42] 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.[43]

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."[44] He is not supported by American Public Health Association or the Children's Health Fund.[45]

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."[46]


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."[47][48][49][50][51]

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." [52][53] The bill passed by a vote of 228–196.[54]

Franks presided over a hearing to ban abortions 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.[55]

Franks has also been involved in the founding of a crisis pregnancy center in Tempe, Arizona, that's still in operation today.[56] 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."[56]


Franks in 2016

During the 2008 campaign, Franks stated that he is skeptical about global warming.[57]

He opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.[58]

Franks supports the right to bear firearms. The interest group, Gun Owners of America, have given Franks high approval ratings.[59] In 2011, he voted to pass the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act.[60]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Legislation sponsored

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[63]
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[64]
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 Independent 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
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

Personal life

Franks and his wife, Josephine, have been married since 1980; they are members of a Baptist Church, specifically the North Phoenix Baptist Church.[65] In August 2008, a donor egg and surrogate were used to give birth to their twins, Joshua Lane and Emily Grace.[66][67][68][69]

Franks is a past chairman of the Children's Hope Scholarship Foundation.[70]


  1. Staff (5 January 2011). "Ten Southern Baptists sworn in as new reps.". Baptist Press. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  3. 1 2 Birhanemaskel, Millete (2002-11-20). "Congressman from Arizona creates buzz in Briggsdale". Greeley Tribune. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
  4. "Trent Franks". Retrieved 2009-09-29.
  5. Associated Press (2002-08-12). "Primaries crowded for redrawn 2nd Congressional District". Kingman Daily Miner. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
  6. "Trent Franks". Retrieved September 29, 2009.
  7. "U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (a Franchising World Q & A)(Interview)". Franchising World. September 1, 2004.
  8. "Republicans hold fast on Senate control". Mohave Daily Miner. UPI. November 7, 1984. p. 7.
  9. "Legislature results are split". Mohave Daily Miner. UPI. November 5, 1986. p. 16.
  10. 1 2 Ken Hedler (December 18, 2002). "Franks seeks widening of school tax credits". Kingman Daily Miner.
  11. "Extended Biography of Congressman Trent Franks". Trent Franks Congressional website. Archived from the original on 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2009-09-29.
  12. "Mecham aides quit, another will leave". Prescott Courier. Associated Press. April 8, 1988. p. 6A.
  13. "Campaign called 'dirtiest' in recent memory". Prescott Courier. Associated Press. September 11, 1988. p. 1.
  14. "Abortion ruling bodes ill for Arizona". Prescott Courier. Associated Press. June 29, 1992. p. 1B.
  15. "Politics of Abortion Likely to Inflame Elections in States". Miami Herald. July 1, 1992.
  16. William F. Rawson (August 2, 1995). "Arizona initiative seeks flat tax, credits for private school tuition". Kingman Daily Miner. Associated Press.
  17. Jonathan D. Salant (December 25, 2002). "A Richer Congress; Nearly Half of Incoming Freshmen are Millionaires". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-09-18.
  18. "Liberty Petroleum Corporation – Profile". Retrieved 2009-09-29.
  19. "GOP lawmaker clarifies remarks critical of Obama". Retrieved September 29, 2009.
  20. "Our Campaigns - AZ District 04- R Primary Race - Sep 13, 1994".
  21. Scott Thomsen (September 12, 2000). "Congress: Grijalva, Franks now front-runners in new districts". The Daily Courier. Associated Press.
  22. "In heavily GOP congressional district in Arizona, Trent Franks wins Republican nomination". Associated Press. September 15, 2002.
  23. Robert Gehrke (September 2, 2002). "Many Arizona House candidates financing own primary campaigns". The Daily Courier. Associated Press.
  24. "Our Campaigns - AZ District 2 - R Primary Race - Sep 10, 2002".
  25. "Our Campaigns - AZ District 2 Race - Nov 05, 2002".
  26. "Our Campaigns - AZ - District 02 - R Primary Race - Sep 07, 2004".
  27. "Our Campaigns - AZ - District 02 Race - Nov 02, 2004".
  28. "Our Campaigns - AZ - District 02 Race - Nov 07, 2006".
  29. "Our Campaigns - AZ - District 02 Race - Nov 04, 2008".
  30. "Our Campaigns - AZ District 02 - R Primary Race - Aug 24, 2010".
  31. "Our Campaigns - AZ - District 02 Race - Nov 02, 2010".
  32. Arizona Redistricting: Commission releases draft map. Daily Kos, 2011-10-04
  33. "Our Campaigns - AZ District 08 - R Primary Race - Aug 28, 2012".
  34. "Our Campaigns - AZ - District 08 Race - Nov 06, 2012".
  35. Roff, Peter (2010-02-26). "The Most Conservative and Most Liberal Members of Congress". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
  36. "Bill Summary & Status - 109th Congress (2005 - 2006) - H.R.4411 - THOMAS (Library of Congress)".
  37. "Bill Summary & Status - 109th Congress (2005 - 2006) - H.R.4777 - THOMAS (Library of Congress)".
  38. Doyle, Michael, "Judge: Controversial 'Muslim Mafia' used stolen papers", Charlotte Observer, November 10, 2009, accessed November 17, 2009
  39. Glenn Greenwald (October 15, 2009). "GOP House members call for investigation of Muslim political activity".
  40. Jordy Yager (October 14, 2009). "House Republicans accuse Muslim group of trying to plant spies". Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.
  41. Current Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  42. "Representative Trent Franks's Ratings and Endorsements on Issue: Business and Consumers". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  43. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-19. Retrieved 2015-03-27./wp-content/uploads/2009/04/franks.pdf
  44. Trent Franks, , 2011
  45. , 2011
  46. Archived from the original on November 7, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. Mike Madden. "GOP's Trent Franks: Abortion worse than slavery for blacks". Salon.
  48. "Representative Trent Franks". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  49. Leibovich, Mark (February 26, 2010). "A Tip on Slavery, Holocaust Talk". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  50. "Trent Franks: Abortion Is Worse for Blacks Than Slavery Was " The Washington Independent". 2010-02-26. Archived from the original on 2010-08-23. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  51. Fabian, Jordan. "GOPer: Abortion taking worse toll on blacks than slavery – The Hill's Blog Briefing Room". Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  52. June 12, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2013
  53. Washington Post. June 14th, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2013
  54. ABC News. "House Passes Bill Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks". ABC News.
  55. , 2012
  56. 1 2 Katrina Trinko (19 June 2013). "National Review Online". National Review Online.
  57. Sept. 11, 2008 10:39 AM (2008-09-11). "Head to Head: Congressional District 2". Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  58. Associated Press (2007-02-14). "McCain courting Christian conservatives". MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
  59. 2011
  60. , 2011
  61. "H.R. 1410 – All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  62. McGlade, Caitlin (25 July 2013). "House bill to halt West Valley casino moves forward". Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  63. "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2007-12-26. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  64. United States House of Representatives elections in Arizona, 2012
  65. "The Arena: – Rep. Trent Franks Bio". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2013. [...] Congressman Franks and his wife Josephine have been married since 1980. They live in Peoria with their children, Joshua and Emily, and are members of North Phoenix Baptist Church. [...]
  66. "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. [...]
  67. 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. [...]
  68. "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 wife Josie are now the deeply grateful parents of two precious Gifts of God; four-year-old twins, Joshua Lane and Emily Grace. [...]
  69. "Trent Franks – Biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 21, 2013. [...] Father of twins, born in August 2008, via a donor egg and surrogate. [...]
  70. "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. [...]
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

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mario Díaz-Balart
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Scott Garrett
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