Shell corporations cloud former Rep. Trent Franks’ family fortun - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Shell corporations cloud former Rep. Trent Franks’ family fortune

Open Secrets lists Franks’ net worth at $29 million. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Open Secrets lists Franks’ net worth at $29 million. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

When Arizona Congressman Trent Franks resigned in December, his voting history as a pro-life warrior was overshadowed by the controversy that led to his political downfall. He had reportedly offered to pay two female staffers to bear children for his wife and him.

[RELATED: Rep. Trent Franks resigns immediately amid surrogacy allegation]

But little has been reported about another part of his life. Franks was one of the richest members of Congress. And he had attained much of that wealth while he was in office.

Open Secrets lists Franks’ net worth at $29 million.

The latest House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Report lists the source of Franks’ assets as Trinity Petroleum and Trinity Petroleum Stock.

A Google search shows at least one additional Trinity Petroleum company. There does not appear to be any online presence for Trinity Petroleum based in Arizona.

[RELATED: Special election for Arizona's Congressional District 8]

But Trinity is listed as having an ownership interest in Providence Petroleum, which has an ownership interest in Liberty Petroleum, which has a website and searchable history of doing business in oil drilling and exploration.

An internet search turned up references to business deals in Liberia and Australia. None of them involved the former congressman.

All three business entities list Franks’ brothers as officers and Liberty lists Lane Franks as its president.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Politics]

Lane declined a request for an interview, but in a written response to another reporter who worked for an international news site, he described his company as having a credible track record in the oil industry, as well as having supported charities in Africa.

"He really did, for the most part, fly beneath the radar compared to other members of Congress,” said Chad Campbell, a former Democrat in the Arizona House of Representatives.

Campbell says he has no knowledge of any shady or unethical business dealings on the part of Franks. But he is not surprised that the source of the former congressman’s wealth is not widely known. Franks represented a safely Republican district, and never faced serious competition for office or the scrutiny that would follow.

“Most politicians get scrutinized come election time, right? Or if they take a stance on a controversial issue or become a leading voice on an issue. And if you look at Franks, you know after he got elected, none of those applied," said Campbell.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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