Democratic Senator and liberal icon Al Franken has been accused of sexual harassment in a pair of incidents by sportscaster and model Leeann Tweeden.
According to Tweeden, the incidents occurred in 2006 while the two were performing together as comedians for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan before Franken assumed office in the Senate. Tweeden made the revelation on Twitter by sharing a photo showing Franken cupping her breasts over U.S. military body armor while she slept.
The post included the hashtag “#MeToo”, a trend concocted by women encouraging one another to share stories of sexual assault.
— Leeann Tweeden (@LeeannTweeden) November 16, 2017
Franken, who has been serving as Minnesota’s junior senator in the upper chamber since 2009, was quick to respond to the allegations. While he appeared to make an apology, he suggested one of the incidents did not occur exactly as Tweeden said it did.
While in Afghanistan, Tweeden claimed Franken forcibly kissed her as part of a rehearsal for a skit.
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” the senator said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
In response to the allegations, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell forwarded the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee.
“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter,” the Kentucky senator said in a statement to the press. “I hope the Democratic leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”
Before venturing into politics, Franken was a popular comedian and liberal activist, in many respects performing in the same vein as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Now, the senator claims to have ditched his comedic persona to focus on achieving political goals. Clearly, his earlier antics have come back to haunt him.
Since taking office in 2009, Franken has been regarded as one of the most beloved lawmakers on the left side of the aisle, and is typically considered to be part of the Democratic Party’s more progressive wing.
Franken’s implication is the latest in a series of high-profile sex-related scandals to hit the headlines. At the time of writing, Republicans have been grappling with what to do with Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has denied a series of allegations of being sexually active with minors during his time as a local attorney in his home state. Many conservative pundits including Ben Shapiro and Sean Hannity have called for Moore to step out of the race.
~ Liberty Planet