WASHINGTON— Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has announced that he plans to resign his Senate seat “in the coming weeks” in response to a growing list of women who claim he engaged in inappropriate …
WASHINGTON— Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has announced that he plans to resign his Senate seat “in the coming weeks” in response to a growing list of women who claim he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact over the years. Franken did not provide a precise date for his resignation, but his announcement on the Senate floor this morning has sparked speculation about his replacement.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who would have the authority to appoint Franken’s successor, offered no comment on who is currently considering. Whoever Dayton selects would serve until the 2018 general election.
In his Dec. 7 remarks on the Senate floor, Franken said he strongly supports the current conversation about sexual harassment by powerful men and said that women’s allegations need to be taken seriously. At the same time, he said some of the allegations against him are untrue, while others differ from his own recollection of events. He said he was confident that the ethics committee would have exonerated him.
“But this decision is not about me, it is about the people of the state of Minnesota,” said Franken. “And it has become clear that I cannot both pursue the ethics committee process and remain an effective senator for them.”
Equally clear was that the steady drip of new allegations had reached a tipping point, and had prompted several Democratic senators to call for Franken’s resignation earlier this week. Those calls came just one day after longtime Democratic Representative John Conyers had stepped down over alleged sexual improprieties.
Franken noted the contrast between how such allegations are affecting Democrats versus Republicans “I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for a seat in the Senate with the full support of his party,” he said, alluding to President Donald Trump and Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Franken also paid homage to his staff and those who have helped him over the years, including his colleague Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said he felt Franken had made the right decision. “He has been a tireless and strong progressive leader on behalf of Minnesotans in Washington, but that in no way excuses his behavior toward the women who came forward. His resignation today is an important part of the healing process.”
Gov. Dayton offered his sympathies to the women involved and to Franken, who he called a personal friend.
“In other respects, Al Franken has been an outstanding Senator. He has been, as Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, ‘A Senator from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.’ He is very smart, very hard-working, and very committed to Minnesota. I wish him well in his future endeavors.”