Sen. Al Franken Announces His Resignation Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations
WASHINGTON – Senator Al Franken has announced his resignation from the United States Senate.
During a scheduled speech on the senate floor, Senator Al Franken announced he will be leaving the United States Senate in the coming weeks amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations.
Gov. Mark Dayton must now appoint someone to take Franken’s seat during the Nov. 2018 election. The winner will serve out Franken’s term until 2020, when they would be up for re-election.
The two-term lawmaker has repeatedly apologized as several women stepped forward to accuse him of sexually inappropriate behavior, from groping to forcibly trying to kiss them.
Senate Democrats called for Franken’s resignation Wednesday after another woman came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct. A former Democratic congressional aid told POLITICO Franken forcibly kissed her after a taping of his radio show in 2006. Franken denied the accusation calling it “categorically not true.”
HISTORY OF FRANKEN ALLEGATIONS
The allegations began in mid-November when Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio host, accused Franken of forcibly kissing her while they were rehearsing for a USO tour skit in 2006. She also released a photo of Franken grinning and reaching for her chest, as if to grope her, while she slept on a military aircraft during the tour.
In a letter to Tweeden, Franken apologized to the radio host. Franken said he remembered their encounter differently, but was “ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you.”
Four other women have also accused Franken of unwanted touching.
Stephanie Kremplin, a U.S. Army veteran, told CNN Franken cupped her breast during a photo opportunity when he was visiting American troops in the Middle East with the USO in December 2003.
Lindsay Menz of Frisco, Texas also told CNN Franken grabbed her buttocks while they were taking a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.
Two unnamed women told the Huffington Post that Franken grabbed their buttocks during separate incidents at campaign events in 2007 and 2008.
In response to the allegations, Franken repeatedly said he has met thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs. He said he did not remember taking photos with the three women that have accused him of grabbing them, but, at a press conference, said “one is too many who feel I have done something disrespectful and that I hurt them and for that I am very sorry.”
Former female staffers and women who worked with Franken during his time on Saturday Night Live issued statements of support for the senator, affirming that he had always treated them with respect.
Statement from Fellow Senator Amy Klobuchar:
“Today Senator Franken acknowledged that he could no longer serve in the Senate and resigned. As he and I discussed yesterday, this is the right decision. Senator Franken has worked for years on behalf of the people of Minnesota and he has been a leader on issues that are fundamental to Americans’ lives, including education, privacy, healthcare and mental health. He has been a friend to me and to many in our state.
“As the women who have come forward to tell their stories across America have made clear, sexual harassment is never acceptable. In every workplace in America, including the U.S. Senate, we must confront the challenges of harassment and misconduct. Nothing is easy or pleasant about this, but we all must recognize that our workplace cultures—and the way we treat each other as human beings—must change.
“For Franni, the Franken family, Senator Franken’s friends and supporters in our state, it’s a very tough day. I want you to know I remain as committed as ever to working together and standing up for people, for common decency, and for our democracy during an incredibly difficult and divisive time in our country. And as we go forward together, we must never forget the words of Senator Paul Wellstone, whom Senator Franken quoted in part today, ‘Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives.’”
Statement from Gov. Mark Dayton:
“I extend my deepest regrets to the women, who have had to endure their unwanted experiences with Senator Franken. As a personal friend, my heart also goes out to Al and his family during this difficult time.
“In other respects, Al Franken has been an outstanding Senator. He has been, as Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, ‘A Senator from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.’ He is very smart, very hard-working, and very committed to Minnesota. I wish him well in his future endeavors.
“Events have unfolded quickly; thus, I have not yet decided on my appointment to fill this upcoming vacancy. I expect to make and announce my decision in the next couple of days.
“I will have no further comments on this subject until that time.”
Statement from Lt. Gov. Tina Smith:
“Senator Franken has been a servant to the people of Minnesota, and a champion for working people during his time in the Senate. I thank him for his service. On this difficult day, I am holding Senator Franken, his family, and those who have worked beside him over the last decade to make this country a better place, in my thoughts.
“I also am thinking today about the many women around the country who have come forward in recent months to share their stories about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in our politics, our businesses, or anywhere else.
“Now, it is on all of us to come together and make the progress necessary to live up to the values we believe in. Governor Dayton and I remain committed to ensuring that Minnesota is a place where everyone has the opportunity to realize their full potential.”
Fox 9 and The Associated Press contributed to this article.