Al Franken (Getty/Saul Loeb)

Al Franken won't resign despite second accuser

A second woman has come forward to accuse the Minnesota Democrat of sexual misconduct, while he was in the Senate


Matthew Rozsa
November 20, 2017 2:09PM (UTC)

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is struggling to save his political career.

Franken has insisted that he will not resign after a photograph of him seemingly groping an unconscious woman has suddenly made him into a controversial figure. When asked about that possibility by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a spokesperson for Franken said, "No," adding that Franken "is spending time with his family in Washington, D.C., and will be through the Thanksgiving holiday, and he’s doing a lot of reflecting.”

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On Monday, however, a second accuser's account was published.

Lindsay Menz told CNN that Franken grabbed her butt while the two took a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. "[He] pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear," Menz said. "It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek."

In a statement to CNN Sunday, Franken said he did not remember taking the photo with Menz and that he felt "badly" that she felt disrespected. "I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture," Franken said. "I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."

Back in Minnesota, Democratic State Auditor Rebecca Otto, a potential candidate for governor in 2018 and an ally of Franken's, was not forgiving.

"It’s hard. He’s a friend, he’s an ally and he’s very effective. But we cannot have a double standard when it comes to having safe places that do not allow for sexual harassment," Otto told the Star Tribune.

A similar sentiment was expressed by an anti-sexual harassment protester in Minneapolis, who told a reporter on Friday, "I thought about the woman in the photo, and what I would feel like if that was me."

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Meanwhile, Franken was a ripe target on the iconic television show that was once his employer, "Saturday Night Live." During a Weekend Update segment, co-host Colin Jost observed that "I know this photo looks bad. But, remember, it also is bad." He added, "And sure, this was taken before Franken ran for public office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school. It's pretty hard to be like, 'Oh, come on, he didn't know any better. He was only 55.' "

Then, of course, there were the tweets by President Donald Trump.

Considering that Trump has refused to denounce Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of courting teenage girls and sexually assaulting at least one of them (and the multitude of accusations alone makes them plausible), his willingness to lash out at Franken reflects how the rising number of sexual misconduct accusations are being baldly politicized. Since Trump himself was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting various women, his statement about Franken also raises questions as to why he is still serving as president even while Franken faces calls for resignation.

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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