In the face of new allegations of sexual harassment, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has made yet another ridiculous excuse for his behavior.
According to a new statement, Franken claims the reason he is being accused of sexual harassment is because he is a “warm person,” and because he likes to “hug people.” Apparently, the senator gets a bit overzealous when he embraces his fans.
Earlier this month, radio talk show host Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of sexually harassing her during a USO tour in 2006. She claimed that during a rehearsal, he forcibly kissed her and touched her chest while she slept on an airplane. A photo of the senator placing his hands over her breasts surfaced, proving the veracity of her claims.
Franken stated that his actions in the picture were supposed to be “funny,” but he issued an apology. “The fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed,” he wrote in a statement. Tweeden said that she accepted his apology.
Since Tweeden made her statement, four other women have come forward alleging that the senator inappropriately touched them while taking photographs. In one instance, he grabbed a woman’s rear while her husband took the picture.
On Thanksgiving Day, Franken released another statement in an attempt to downplay the accusations. He stated that he respects the “feelings” of his accusers. “I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations,” he writes. “I’m a warm person; I hug people. I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many.”
The senator also indicated that he recognizes that he needs “to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations.” Individuals on the Right and the Left have called for the senator’s resignation, but Franken stated that he intends to remain in his seat, and regain the trust of his supporters. According to The Daily Caller, 50 percent of voters believe the senator should step down, while 22 percent feel he should stay in the Senate.
Franken is one of several politicians who is facing allegations of sexual harassment. Leaders on both sides have been accused of behaving inappropriately with women. Until recently, the actions of these individuals have been hidden — however, they are now coming to light.
On November 14, Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) announced that the House has paid out $15 million in harassment settlements over more than a decade. While a spokesperson later stated that the figure does not include only sexual harassment claims, it does provide an idea of how often this type of situation arises.
Should the disgraced Senator Al Franken step down?
Many have assumed that sexual impropriety occurred in the United States government — however, they may not have understood the extent to which it seems to be prevalent. However, voters deserve to know if the people who represent them have engaged in this type of behavior.
Americans should be able and willing to hold their elected officials to account when they fail to live up to the expected standard. Hopefully, further investigations will weed out other leaders who have abused their authority.