Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) is at the center of a firestorm of controversy after a Los Angeles media personality accused the former “Saturday Night Live” star of forcibly kissing her and groping her as she slept during a USO Tour in December 2006.
KABC Radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden published the account of her alleged harassment on her station’s website, revealing the sordid details of her encounter with Franken.
“[H]e came at me, put has hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth,” she recalled. “I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.”
Tweeden also provided photographic evidence of the groping incident, which shows a smiling Franken cupping his hands around her breasts as she slept.
After initially offering a pseudo-apology that ruffled even more feathers, Franken issued a more substantive mea culpa calling for an ethics investigation into his actions and reinforcing his status as a champion of women.
“I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter,” he said. “There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture.”
Fellow Democratic lawmakers have echoed Franken’s call for an ethics investigation:
Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated.
I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 16, 2017
The allegations against Sen. Franken are deeply concerning. This kind of behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated anywhere in our society. There is nothing funny about it and there is no excuse for it. The Ethics Committee deserves answers from him.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) November 16, 2017
Re Al Franken: I’m shocked and concerned. The behavior described is completely unacceptable. Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) November 16, 2017
I support an ethics committee investigation into these accusations and I hope this latest example of the deep problems on this front spurs continued action to address it. https://t.co/i0ooPDuG4E
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) November 16, 2017
Notably, no Democrats have yet called for Franken to resign in the wake of the scandal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even opted for an ethics investigation over a direct call for Franken to resign.
“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter,” McConnell said in a statement that did not include Franken’s name.