At least six female Democratic senators have asked Minnesota Senator Al Franken to step down following a new POLITICO report of a congressional aide alleging that he once tried to forcibly kiss her. Accusations of sexual misconduct against Franken first came to light in mid-November after radio broadcaster and TV host Leeann Tweeden wrote about Franken groping and forcibly kissing her in 2006.
Franken has responded to the allegations by apologizing and insisting that he’ll learn from his “mistakes,” but has repeatedly said he has no intentions of resigning.
In a lengthy Facebook post, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urged Franken to renounce his position. “While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” she wrote.
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill simply tweeted, “Al Franken should resign.”
In a series of tweets, Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, California Senator Kamala Harris, New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan, and Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin also took to Twitter to call for his resignation.
“Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere,” Harris said. “I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down.”
“Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside,” Hirono wrote. “I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women.” She went on to discuss the importance of holding sexual assaulters and harassers accountable for their actions and making them face consequences.
Like McCaskill, Baldwin’s message was short and to the point: “I believe it is best for Senator Franken to resign.”
Hassan said, “It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women. He should resign. We are experiencing a change in our culture that is long overdue, and we must continue working to empower all women and do everything we can to prevent sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault.”
In addition to the six women, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey was part of the list of Democrats asking him to get out of Congress. “I agree with my colleagues who have stepped forward today and called on Senator Franken to resign,” he said. “We can’t just believe women when it’s convenient.”