Progressive Democrats are increasing the pressure on Senator Al Franken (D-MN) to retire following accusations that he sexually harassed journalist Leeann Tweeden.
The accusations are validated by a photo showing Franken putting his hands near Tweeden’s breasts while she was asleep on a plane ride after a USO tour in 2006. Franken, a comedian at the time, said the picture was meant to be funny. He apologized to Tweeden, called his actions “shameful,” and said that he would gladly cooperate with an ethics investigation.
Tweeden, who has accepted Franken’s apology and has not asked him to resign, also claims that Franken ‘forcefully kissed her’ without her consent under the guise of rehearsing for a skit. Franken says he does not remember this incident.
“Franken must go. We do not tolerate those who abuse their power,” argues Saikat Chakrabarti, executive director of Justice Democrats PAC, a group of former Sanders campaign staff and other prominent progressives. The PAC launched a petition Thursday demanding Franken’s resignation. As of Friday, the petition had nearly 7,000 signatures.
“No one should fear their elected representatives, so, sadly, for me, I think the Senator should resign,” said Megan Thomas, president of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
If Franken decides to step down, it will be up to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) to appoint an interim senator who will serve until a special election can be held or until Minnesota’s next statewide contest in November 2018.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) is the favorite to replace Franken.
“Representative Keith Ellison has a proven track record of integrity and fighting for progressive principles,” said Chakrabarti.
Ellison, a Muslim who also serves as Deputy Chair for the DNC, has a reputation as one of the most liberal lawmakers in Congress.
“It took extraordinary bravery for Leeann Tweeden to come forward,” said Ellison. “Al Franken has been a good friend of mine for years, but we as a progressive community must take her words seriously, and fully commit ourselves to creating a world free from sexual harassment and assault.”
Minnesota is a blue state, so it is likely that whoever serves as interim Senator will win in the election next year.
Editor’s note: He has admitted all of this, he has always been a jerk. Good riddance.