Let the Ethics Committee decide.
That’s the message Senate Democrats sent Thursday in response to a report that one of their own, Minnesota lawmaker Al Franken, forcibly kissed and groped a woman in 2006.
On Thursday morning, KABC news anchor Leeann Tweeden wrote in a post on her Los Angeles radio station’s website that Franken kissed her against her will while rehearsing a skit during a 2006 USO trip to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. She included a photo that appears to show the lawmaker groping or pretending to grope her breasts while she’s asleep.
Franken apologized to Tweeden in an initial statement, writing that the photo was “clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t.” Later in the morning, he released a longer message, writing: “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”
Franken’s colleagues have so far been unified in kicking the matter to the Ethics Committee, a consequence first suggested by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but one that also allows Democrats to at least temporarily avoid a politically, and perhaps personally, difficult decision: whether to call on Franken to resign. McConnell said in a statement Thursday that the committee should “review the matter.” “Regardless of party,” the Republican continued, “harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else.”