Minnesota Senator Al Franken joined the ever-growing list of men accused of sexual harassment on Thursday when TV and radio host Leeann Tweeden alleged that Franken kissed her and groped her without consent during a USO tour in 2006 — before Franken was a Senator — potentially marking him as the Democrat in Congress known to be a sexual harasser by Rep. Jackie Speier as described in her recent congressional testimony.
Franken quickly issued a brief statement, explaining that he didn’t remember the incident in the same way as Tweeden recounted, but he nonetheless expressed his “sincerest apologies.” As for the photo of Tweeden sleeping while Franken apparently groped her, the senator stated, “it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
In a longer statement, Franken has again apologized to Tweeden, his constituents, and everyone who considers him “an ally and supporter and champion of women.” Here’s more:
“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine — is: I’m sorry.
“I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us — including and especially men who respect women — have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”
Following calls for him to step down from the Senate, Franken called for an ethics investigation into the matter (Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer have also called for a probe). Franken stressed that he would “gladly cooperate” with all such proceedings.
The allegations are especially unfortunate because Sen. Franken has been outspoken about his support of victims and recently tweeted on the subject.
You can read Franken’s full statement below.
(Via The Hill)