A growing list of Democratic lawmakers have called on Sen. Al Franken to resign. The pleas come after another report of alleged sexual misconduct against Franken surfaced Wednesday morning.
The calls for him to resign have prompted Franken’s office to say he will have an announcement Thursday. Further details on the announcement haven’t been disclosed, but Franken has continuously denied intentional wrongdoing in the allegations and has apologized.
If he resigns, Franken would be the second member of Congress to step aside due to sexual harassment allegations. Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan announced Tuesday that he was stepping down immediately after over 50 years in Congress and endorsed his son in a subsequent election to replace him.
The calls for Franken’s resignation from fellow Democrats started with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who wrote Wednesday that she was “shocked” and “disappointed” after several women came forward with allegations that Franken inappropriately touched them.
“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,” Gillibrand wrote in a statement to Facebook.
The sexual misconduct allegations started with radio personality and model Leeann Tweeden coming forward saying that Franken forced himself on her while they were overseas on a USO tour. She said, and provided a photo, that Franken also grabbed her breasts while she was asleep.
Another woman, named Lindsay Menz, accused Franken of touching her butt while posing for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. On November 30, the Senate Ethics Committee announced that it’s investigating the allegations against Franken, and Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer sent information to the committee or review.
Following Gillibrand’s message, several other prominent Democrats came forward with calls for Franken to step down. The statements issued by the senators come on the same day that “The Silence Breakers” were named TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” The recent outpouring of sexual misconduct allegations against people in entertainment, media, politics, business and many more industries were spurred by the #MeToo hashtag on social media. People who had stories of sexual misconduct were urged to come clean against their accusers.
A list of the lawmakers who called for Franken to step aside is provided below:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.)
Sen. Maggie Hassan (N.H.)
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii)
Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.)
Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.)
The increasing number of women coming forward suggests a pattern of repeated harassment and unacceptable behavior that is impossible to ignore. Senator Franken has denied some of these allegations and has the right to continue to seek a process through the Ethics Committee, but I believe the best course of action for him right now is to step down, as I expect he will do tomorrow.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.)
DNC Chairman Tom Perez
Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.)
Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.)
Before he was elected to the Senate, Franken worked as a comedian on the comedy show Saturday Night Live. He was first elected to the Senate in 2008 after he defeated Republican Sen. Norm Coleman by just 312 votes. He won his re-election bid in 2014 and is up for re-election in 2018.