Last week, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) was accused by broadcast journalist Leeann Tweeden of kissing and groping her without consent during a 2006 USO Tour. Franken responded with an apology and called for an ethics inquiry into himself. The senator’s team was also adamant that he wouldn’t be stepping down, but another accuser has come forward. Lindsay Menz, now a 33-year-old Texas resident, alleges that Franken blatantly groped her during a photo op at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair.
Franken took office in 2009, which would mean that the incident took place when he was a sitting senator, and following the Tweeden accusations, Menz contacted CNN with her story. While attending the fair to support her father’s small business, Menz says she posed with Franken, who allegedly grabbed her rear while her husband took a photo. She described the incident as “gross”:
“[He] pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear … It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek … It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt … I was like, oh my God, what’s happening … I felt gross. It’d be like being walking through the mall and some random person grabbing your butt … You just feel gross. Like ew, I want to wash that off of me.”
Menz says that the photo only took a few seconds, and she told her husband, Jeremy, straight away about what had happened. Jeremy says he and his wife were “upset” and “in shock” while Franken quickly left the booth after the photo was taken. When contacted by CNN, the senator stated he had no recollection of posing with Menz:
“I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture … I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times notes that Minnesota constituents are both outraged and sorrowful over the accusations against Franken. Many are particularly disappointed to see Franken become the subject of allegations after he so vigorously championed sexual harassment victims who took part in the #MeToo campaign to share their own experiences.