Lee Ann Tweeden

Lee Ann Tweeden

Name: Lee Ann Tweeden

Age: 44

Man she accused: Al Franken

Date of Accusation: Nov 16, 2017

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”14″ gal_title=”Lee Ann Tweeden”]

Accusations:

Tweeden says Franken forced an unwelcome kiss on her during their first rehearsal of a 2-week USO tour in Kuwait and Afghanistan in December, 2006.  She also published a photo of Franken’s hands hovering over her breasts while she appears to be sleeping.

She further describes petty and demeaning actions Franken took toward her after the first alleged incident. Actions she believes were some kind of payback or retaliation for having rebuked him.

Her Own Words: Tweeden published her story, “Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It,” in this KABC blog post, on November 16, 2017.

Tweeden also gave many interviews telling her story. Click below to watch them.

Tweeden's Interviews +

Tweeden's press conference, live-broadcast on Fox News, Nov 16, 2017

Tweeden on "The Lead with Jake Tapper," Nov 16, 2017

Tweeden on The View, Nov 17, 2017

Credibility of accusations:

Many have questioned Tweeden’s story because:

1. She was formerly a model, including in Playboy.

This is an invalid reason to question her. Every woman has a right to say no, in every moment. It doesn’t matter if she’s drunk or scantily clad or works as a hooker. No means no.

2. A rumor about the photographer circulated online that the person who took the picture of Franken playing with Tweeden's breasts had surfaced and admitted that the photo was staged, and that Tweeden was in on the gag.

This has been proven false. Read more about it on Snopes.

3. A photograph of a kiss between Tweeden and Franken surfaced shortly after Tweeden published her allegation. In the picture, you can see Tweeden's arms wrapped tightly around Franken's neck.

So how can it be true that he forced himself on her?

(Spoiler alert: it can't. Which is extremely disheartening for those of us whose rallying cry is, "Believe the women!")

More about the kiss allegation +
Tweeden's explanation is that the photograph is of the live performance; whereas the forced kiss happened backstage an hour earlier.

But that explanation doesn't hold water either. In her allegation, she not only describes the forced kiss she says happened, she also describes the actual kiss that she says took place shortly after the alleged forced kiss during rehearsal. She writes, "I performed the skit as written, carefully turning my head so he couldn’t kiss me on the lips." But n the photo above, she is most certainly not "carefully turning her head."

Unfortunately for those of us who insist we must "Believe the women!", the photograph of Franken and Tweeden engaged in a big old lip lock just doesn't line up with Tweeden's account of what happened.

3. A video also surfaced, which showed Tweeden playing grab-ass with the guitarist on the same USO trip.

So if she had just done it to the guitarist - why couldn't Franken do it to her??

Here's why not. (and watch the video) +

This is where this question of CONSENT comes into play. 

It is in fact completely plausible that Tweeden was happy to play grab-ass with the guitarist, but felt revulsion at the idea of Franken playing bobby-grab with her. 

The lesson to be learned here gentlemen is that just because a woman is willing to do something with some other guy, doesn't mean she's willing to do it with you. So for you to do something to her, even if she just did the exact same thing to someone who's not-you, is only setting you up for a potential harassment allegation. 

4. Evidence of a smear campaign. It emerged that prior to the publication of Tweeden's allegation, Republican dirty-tricks operative Rodger Stone had orchestrated a massive and coordinated online campaign to promote Tweeden's story and thus destroy Franken, a powerful Democratic Senator.

This raised the questions, How did Stone know about Tweeden's allegations before she made them public?

{Need to fill in the details about how Stone knew. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/360726-stone-appeared-to-know-franken-allegation-was-coming }

5. A juicy book deal. It was alleged that Tweeden had just signed with Sinclair Broadcast Group, as a reward for having gone along with the smear campaign.

This has been proven false by some seriously hard-core investigative journalism by Maracat. Daily Kos published this article, The Making of  Rumor: Does Tweeden Have a Book Deal? on Nov 22, 2017, which explains how the rumor got started.

We should still believe Lee Ann

 

Why she's telling her story now:

Tweeden says that at the time of the incident, she was fearful of career repercussions if she said anything. Fears she says her now-husband agreed with at the time. But now a decade later, she says she feels on much more solid footing, professionally.

She also wrote, in her original allegation, that she had been inspired by the interview she conducted with Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Ca) a few weeks earlier. In that interview, Speier told her story of having been sexually assaulted by a Congressman when she was a young aide.

The incident sounded to Tweeden like exactly what Franken had done to her. She decided that now was her time to finally tell her story. Both for herself, and for other women:

“Maybe I have a platform to speak out, because if he did this to somebody else or if anybody else has stayed silent or anybody else has been the victim of any kind of abuse, maybe they can speak out and feel like they can come forward in real time and not wait a decade or longer,” Tweeden said in an interview with Good Morning America.

Franken's Response:

Franken made a public statement, and also wrote Tweeden a letter (which she read on the air of The View), saying that while he apologizes for the fact that his actions left her feeling violated, he "remembers that rehearsal differently."

Tweeden's Interviews

Tweeden's multiple interviews on the subject are compelling and credible. Not only the way she describes the allegations; but also the way she talks about small ways that Franken demeaned her throughout the trip. She also riffs on the negative repercussions she fears she might encounter in her career, if she brought her allegations to the USO or the trip's sponsor.

 

 

 

Cristina Garcia

Name: Cristina Garcia

Age: 40

Role: Assemblywoman, California State Legislature; chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus

Accusations: Garcia is accused of making drunken passes at 2 male subordinates, and grabbing the crotch of one

Consequences for her actions: Garcia announced on Feb 9, 2018 that she would be taking unpaid leave from her position in the Assembly

Garcia’s Response: Garcia initially said she had “zero recollection” of the alleged incidents. The following day, Friday Feb 9, 2018, she said she was now certain she had never done the things she was accused of. Read her full statement here.

Return to main page

 

Click the Tabs to Read More

Cristina Garcia, a Democratic assemblywoman in California’s 58th District, has been an outspoken leader of the #MeToo movement – even appearing in Time Magazine’s Person of the Year story for 2017, The Silence Breakers. She has said that she has frequently experienced sexual harassment in her career. So it’s especially interesting that she is now accused of sexual harassment herself. 

As first reported in Politico on Feb 8, 2018 by Carla Marinucci, Garcia has been accused by two young male staffers – one anonymously and one on the record – of having made unwelcome sexual advances toward them. 

The formal report to the California Assembly about the allegations was made by Assembly member Ian Calderon (D-Whittier). In an interesting twist, Calderon is the nephew of Tom Calderon, a former Assemblyman and the Democrat who Garcia defeated in the 2012 primary, before Garcia went on to win the seat. According to the Los Angeles Times, the two Calderons are not on speaking terms. 

Garcia announced on Feb 10, 2018 that she would take an unpaid leave from the Assembly, beginning immediately, pending the outcome of the investigation. 

Editor’s Note: While there has not yet [Feb 11, 2018] been published any journalism that questions the credibility of Garcia’s accusers, The #MeToo Exchange finds some of Daniel Fierro’s statements cast doubt on the credibility of his allegations. Read more on the Accusers tab. 

Garcia’s Twitter feed is where she’s most active 

Here is Garcia’s Facebook page. 

Daniel Fierro

Fierro, who was 25 at the time of the alleged incident, says Garcia came up to him at the end of the annual Assembly softball game while he was cleaning up the dugout. He says she was drunk and got handsy – stroking his back, squeezing his butt and even trying to grab his crotch before he managed to extricate himself from the situation. 

#MeToo movement lawmaker investigated for sexual misconduct allegations,
Politico
by Carla Marinucci
Feb 8, 2018

But is Fierro telling the truth? 

That’s a fair question to ask of any accuser. One thing that adds instant credibility is contemporaneous corroboration – did he or she tell anyone at the time about the incident? 

In Fierro’s case, he passes this test, at least on the surface: according to Politico, Fierro told two Assembly staffers who were colleagues of his at the time about the incident. One of them, Lerna Shirinian, is quoted as saying, “I remember it very clearly, he told me as soon as it happened.”

But then, Politico goes on to say, that Shirinian “[noted] the admission was in confidence and she had to respect her friend’s decision not to report it.”

Huh? That’s a bit odd. We here at The #MeToo Exchange have read a lot of these stories, and we’ve never read about a corroborator offering a built-in reason why they didn’t say something before. That sounds to us like what someone would say if they were making up a story, and just weren’t very good at making it sound real. 

Another thing about Fierro’s allegation strikes us as odd, just because in all the stories we’ve read, we’ve never heard another accuser say it. And that is that he told Politico he “would not be surprised if Garcia does not even remember the groping incident, [because] she was so intoxicated.” Really? You felt the need to mention that she probably wouldn’t remember it? That’s a pretty good way of preempting an “I have no recollection” rebuttal. But even as good of a strategic move as it is, you just don’t read other accusers saying it. Which makes us wonder – just wonder – if perhaps this story isn’t more strategic calculation than truth

And finally, Fierro’s accusation as reported in Politico includes this tidbit: “Fierro said he felt the same doubts that women have expressed in similar situations. “I thought, ‘What did I do?’” to bring on the sexual aggression.” “

And while it may be true – if the allegations are true – that Fierro felt self-doubt as a response … isn’t that a weird way to say it? He’s not saying, as women accusers typically do, “I blamed myself for what happened, wondering what I did wrong.” Rather, he’s saying, “My story is just as worthy of attention as any woman’s story, because I felt the same things.” And that just strikes us as an odd thing to say. 

Bottom line, we are eagerly awaiting additional journalism on this allegation, as the investigation is reported to be moving along at a brisk pace. 

Anonymous Accuser #1

A lobbyist from Sacramento says that Garcia had repeatedly asked him out on dates, which he had declined. Then one night at a fundraiser in May 2017, Garcia got drunk and approached him as he was leaving, saying she had set a goal for herself to fuck him. She also at that point she tried to grab his crotch. 

She looked at me for a second and said, “I’ve set a goal for myself to fuck you.”

#MeToo movement lawmaker investigated for sexual misconduct allegations
Politico
by Carla Marinucci
Feb 8, 2018

Scroll back up to the tabs to read more

Sen. Connie Leyva called for Garcia to step down, saying, “As a vocal ally of the #MeToo and #WeSaidEnough movements, I am shocked and disturbed at the very troubling allegations related to California Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Cristina Garcia,” she wrote. “… Anyone proven to have sexually harassed or assaulted another person, regardless of their gender, should be held accountable for their actions.  I commit to continue fighting to rid the Capitol and our state of the pervasive culture of sexual harassment, assault, and overall disrespect.”

California Assemblywoman and #MeToo Champion accused of groping, Mercury News by Katy Murphy, Feb 8, 2018 

Garcia made an initial statement on Thursday Feb 8, 2018 saying she had “zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior.” 

She updated her statement on Friday to say “Upon reflection of the details alleged, I am certain I did not engage in the behavior I am accused of.  However, as I’ve said before, any claims about sexual harassment must be taken seriously, and I believe elected officials should be held to a higher standard of accountability.” 

Read her statement here

Tab Content

 

 

 

 

Tim Murphy

Name: Tim Murphy

Age: 

Role: U.S. Congressman (R-Pa) & staunch antiabortion lawmaker

Accusations: Pressured his mistress to have an abortion. Repeat: the guy who’s always been a staunch antiabortion lawmaker, pressured his mistress to have an abortion.

Consequences for his actions: Resigned his seat in December, 2017

Murphy’s Response:

 

Click the Tabs to Read More

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

 

Donald Trump

Name: Donald Trump

Age: 72

Role: President of the United States

Accusations: As many as 20 women have accused Trump of sexual harassment and assault, including 4 contestants of the Miss Teen USA pageant who said Trump walked in on them naked in a women’s dressing room while they were young teenagers, and stayed there to ogle them.

Consequences for his actions: Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States on November 8, 2016. Despite having lost the popular vote by some 3 million votes, he secured an electoral college victory. Trump is being sued for defamation by some of the women he has accused of having made false allegations about him.

Trump’s Response: Complete denial of all the accusations. Trump has also threatened to sue the women who have made the allegations. None of those threatened lawsuits have yet been filed.

 

Click the Tabs to Read More

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

 

Roy Moore

Name: Roy Moore

Age: 

Role: Judge twice removed from the Bench by the Alabama Supreme Court, for violating the Constitution of the United States. Ran unsuccessfully for Senate in Alabama in the 2017 special election to fill Jeff Sessions’ vacated seat when he was appointed Attorney General.

Accusations: 9 women accuse Moore of inappropriate sexual behavior, including coming onto them when they were teenagers and he was a man in his late 20’s and early 30’s.

Consequences for his actions:

Moore’s Response:

 

Click the Tabs to Read More

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

 

Al Franken

Name: Al Franken

Age: 

Role: Former U.S. Senator (D-MN)

Accusations: Franken has been accused of “butt-groping” and other unwanted touching by a total of 8 female constituents and colleagues.

Consequences for his actions: Franken’s Democratic colleagues called for his resignation on Dec 6, 2017, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and including Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Franken announced his resignation on Dec 7, to take effect before the end of the year.

Franken’s Response: Franken’s responses have been numerous. Immediately after the first allegation came out (leveled by Lee Ann Tweeden), he posted a response to Facebook that got a lot of blowback, so he posted a revised statement a few hours later. Franken then issued statements in response to each of the subsequent accusations that came out over the course of the next 2 weeks. And finally, on the day he announced his resignation from the Senate, he made a speech on the Senate floor that was effectively a summary statement regarding the allegations against him.

Franken’s Accusers

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”9″ gal_title=”Al Frankens accusers”]

Click the Tabs to Read More

Summary of Events

Franken was first accused on Nov 16, 2017 by radio show host Lee Ann Tweeden of “groping and forcibly kissing” her while they were on a USO tour together in the Middle East in 2004.

A second accuser came forward a couple days later, saying Franken had “groped her butt” in a photo opp at a Minnesota State Fair when he was first running for Senate.

This was followed by a number of other accusers, both named and anonymous, who alleged Senator Franken had committed similar acts of inappropriate touching in the years prior to being elected to the Senate. All in all, his total accusers came to 9

Franken issued a statement in response to each new allegation that all basically took the position that he was sorry for ways that his behavior had made women uncomfortable, but that he largely remembered the events differently than they were being reported.

Calls for Franken to Resign

While he resisted calls for his resignation for weeks, he finally gave a speech on Dec 7, 2017 on the floor of the Senate, saying he would be resigning. This was in response to a chorus of his Democratic colleagues, led by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who all came out en masse on Dec 6, calling for his resignation. 

Franken’s forced resignation added a huge log to the already raging fire of controversy over sexual harassment allegations of elected officials in this country. 

Republican vs. Democratic responses to Sexual Harassment Allegations

As Franken noted in his resignation speech, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, a Republican, has been credibly accused of sexually harassing and assaulting as many as 20 women; and a man running for Senator of Alabama Roy Moore (who was later defeated in that race by Democrat Doug Jones) had been accused of assault and inappropriate conduct with 9 women, some of whom were young teenagers when the 30-year-old Moore came onto them.

Both of these men vehemently denied all accusations against them, and their party and most fellow Republicans were standing staunchly by their side. 

Other lawmakers were grappling with accusations of misconduct at the same time: 

  • Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa) had resigned in October, after it became known that the staunch anti-abortion conservative, also a married father of one, had been pressuring his girlfriend to have an abortion. 
  • Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich) announced on Dec 5 that he would be resigning, more than a week after a female colleague accused him of years of sexually harassing her  
  • Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz) announced on Dec 7 that he would be resigning, several days after 2 staffers had accused him of repeatedly asking them to serve as surrogates for his wife   
  • Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev) announced on Dec 15 he would not seek re-election, after accusations of sexual misconduct with female colleagues had been published on Dec 1 
  • Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tx) was caught up in a sex scandal that broke on Nov 22, causing him to announce on Nov 30 that he would not seek re-election in 2018. 
  • Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tx) had settled a sexual harassment claim from a staffer back in 2014, but on Dec 1 it was revealed that he had used taxpayer money to pay her off 
  • Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa) is the only lawmaker whose sexual harassment troubles came to light after Franken had announced his resignation, in January 2018.  

Yet here was Senator Al Franken – a staunch progressive ally of women, and a powerful force to be reckoned with in the Senate – being forced to resign his seat, just because he had touched a few butts more than a decade ago? 

How did this happen? 

Political Gamesmanship

It’s been suggested that Democrats in the Senate were gearing up to make the case that Roy Moore was unfit to be a Senator; and that if he won the Alabama Senate race (as he was favored to do) they planned to try and unseat him, as a way of shrinking the Republican majority in that body. 

In preparation for that move, Democratic lawmakers were eager to present themselves as holding the moral high ground on this issue. If they were going to insist that Moore was unfit to hold office on grounds that he was a sexual predator, then they’d be hypocrites if they didn’t demand that Franken (along with Rep. John Conyers, the other Democratic lawmaker accused of sexual misconduct) step down as well. 

Never mind the fact that of the 10 national political figures accused of sexual harassment and assault in 2017, 7 were Republicans; and only 2 (Trent Franks and Tim Murphy) immediately resigned their seats. 

It should be noted that Al Franken was widely rumored to be considering a Presidential bid in 2020. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the Senator who led the call for Franken to resign, is also said to be considering a Presidential bid. This has led many to speculate that Gillibrand’s call for Franken’s resignation was heavily tainted by self-interest

Lessons Learned

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), in her speech calling for Franken’s resignation, said, “when we have to start talking about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, you are having the wrong conversation.” 

WRONG!!!! 

Especially when it comes to appropriate consequences, that is the most important conversation to be having. 

  • There is a difference between putting your hand on a woman’s butt in a photograph and asking a female subordinate to stroke your penis. 
  • There is a difference between doing sexually inappropriate things a decade ago, before you were elected to office, and doing them a month ago while sitting in your Congressional office in D.C. 
  • There is a difference between insisting that all your accusers are liars and shame-facedly taking responsibility for your bad behavior, while apologizing to them over and over again. 
  • There is a difference between being a staunch progressive ally for women’s rights and being a misogynistic 1950’s throwback who wants to treat women as second class citizens with less earning power than men. 

Scroll back up to the tabs to read more

Tweeden’s Twitter image

Lee Ann Tweeden

For more detailed information about Lee Ann Tweeden’s accusations and their credibility, click here

Franken’s first accuser was radio host and former model, Lee Ann Tweeden. She published her story, “Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It,” in this KABC blog post, on November 16, 2017. 

Accusation: Tweeden’s accusation against Franken is that during rehearsal for their first show in Kuwait at the very start of their 2-week USO trip together in 2006, Franken forced an unwelcome kiss on her. Tweeden also published a photograph of Franken’s hands hovering over her breasts, while she appeared to be asleep. 

Many have questioned the veracity of Tweeden’s allegations, as well as her motivations for lying about a strong Democratic Senator. Those stem from the fact that Republican operative and Trump ally Rodger Stone tweeted that Franken was about to be accused of “grabby” behavior, hours before Tweeden published her accusations.  

It should be noted that a whole slew of people attacked Lee Ann Tweeden’s credibility on the grounds that she used to make a living wearing next to no clothing. But that is a completely inappropriate attack on her. ALL women – no matter how much clothing they might or might not wear, or the sexual behavior they might willingly engage in from time to time – have the right to say NO to any sexual behavior that is not welcome. 

Lindsay Menz

The country had spent the weekend whipping itself into a froth over Tweeden’s allegations against Franken, with many people on the left concluding that Franken was innocent and that Tweeden was a liar (using the argumetns I outlined above), while many on the right insisted that liberals were just defending one of their own in a grotesque display of hypocrisy. 

Then on Monday we got the bombshell: a second Franken accuser!!

Accusation: Menz said Franken groped her bottom during a photo opp at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, in an interview with MJ Lee on 11/20/17 for her story, Woman Says Franken Inappropriately Touched Her in 2010, in CNN Politics. 

Then on Nov 22, 2017, just 2 days after the Menz accusation, the Huffington Post published an article by Jenavieve Hatch and Zachary Roth, reporting that 2 more women had accused Franken of inappropriate sexual behavior – but these 2 were anonymous. 

Anonymous Accuser #1

Accusation: During a photo opp on June 25, 2007, at an event in Minneapolis hosted by the Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus, Franken grabbed her butt. 

Role: constituent 

Response: “I’m someone who, you know, hugs people,” Franken told Minnesota Public Radio. “I’ve learned from these stories that in some of these encounters I have crossed the line for some women.”

Anonymous Accuser #2

Accusation: Franken cupped her butt during a Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis in 2008, and then suggested they visit a bathroom together. 

Response: “I can categorically say that I did not proposition anyone to join me in any bathroom,” Franken told Huffington Post.

Franken responded to these 3rd and 4th allegations on November 26 by giving a series of interviews (see the Response tab, above) in which he repeated his apologies, but affirmed his desire for an ethics investigation, implying he felt that he would be found more or less innocent after such an investigation. He also stated unwaveringly that he intended to hold onto his Senate seat. 

Ten days had passed and the dust seemed to be settling when news broke of two more accusers, one named and one anonymous. Their accusations were similar to the previous ones – an unwelcome kiss and a photo opp in which the Senator got handsy. 

Stephanie Kemplin

Accusation: During a photo opp in Kuwait in 2003, Franken groped her breast from the side. 

Role: Military Police Officer serving in Kuwait when Franken came to visit with the USO in 2003 

Reported by CNN  on Nov 30, 2017

Anonymous Accuser #3

Accusation: Franken gave her an unwelcome, “wet, open-mouthed kiss” during an event. In their reporting, Jezebel confirms that the woman told more than one person about the incident at the time. 

Role: She was an elected official who appeared on a guest of Franken’s radio show when they taped in her community in 2006. 

Response: Franken made no specific response to this allegation. 

Reported in Jezebel on Nov 30, 2017 

Then a week later two more accusations became public. And even though these were the least credible or serious of the bunch (one accusation was that he squeezed a woman’s waist, and another was that he tried to kiss her insisting it was his right as an entertainer) they were clearly the straws that broke the camel’s back. That same day is when Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called for Franken to step down, followed in rapid succession by a majority of Senate Democrats (see more on the Consequences tab, above)

Tina Dupuy 

Accusation: “He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh. I froze. Then he squeezed. At least twice.” Dupuy writes in The Atlantic, “I believe Franken’s accusers because he groped me too,” by Tina Dupuy, Dec 6, 2017.

Relationship: a budding journalist working for Media Matters, whose inauguration party (Obama’s 1st) Franken attended  

I believe lot of people didn’t even bother to learn the details about this accusation. It was just another accusation, and that’s all people really cared about. Including even those who had been supporting him up until that point. 

Which is unfortunate, because the accusation is that he squeezed her waist?!?! In what world is that sexual harassment? She leveled it for one reason and one reason only: so that she would get more people to read the story she wanted to tell about this moment in sexual harassment history.

She all but admits it in the final paragraph, when she says that a cryptic tweet she sent – one in which she did NOT accuse a Senator of groping her – only got one retweet. And this “story” of hers presented her with a chance to get thousands more eyeballs than anything else she’s ever written. 

Because she’s not just a fan, or someone looking for a financial settlement. Rather, she’s just a journalist who’s tired of writing interesting pieces that no one ever reads, and she saw her moment in the spotlight.

Further evidence for this is that her “story” is only tangentially about her own experience with Franken. Mostly it’s her journalistic perspective on everything that got us to this #metoo moment. It’s a decent piece, I don’t blame her for wanting more people to read it. But throwing a good Senator under the bus in pursuit of her own 15 minutes of fame? No bueno. 

Anonymous Accuser #4

Accusation: Franken tried to kiss her at the end of the taping of his radio show one day. She claims he said, “It’s my right as an entertainer.” 

Role: former Democratic congressional aide

Response: “This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation,” he told Politico. 

Reported in Politico , by Heather Caygle, Dec 6, 2017

Scroll back up to the tabs to read more

On Dec. 6, 2017 a wave of Democratic elected officials, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called for Franken to resign. Here is the full list, with their individual calls for his resignation, as published by Politico. 

“I think when we have to start talking about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, you are having the wrong conversation. You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay.”

Franken gave an 11-minute speech on the floor of the Senate on Thursday morning, December 7, 2017 in which he announced he would be resigning within the month. 

Read the full transcript, with annotations, on the Washington Post, by Amber Phillips. Or watch the video below. 

Scroll back up to the tabs to read more

Franken’s initial response to Tweeden’s allegations was brief, possibly written by a staffer: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Al Franken’s 2nd official statement in response to the Lee Ann Tweeden accusations, after his first apology earlier in the day had been very poorly received.

After 3 more accusers came forward, Franken sort of went into hiding, and wasn’t seen publicly for a couple weeks. Then on November 26 he decided to tell the world he wasn’t resigning in a couple of interviews in Minnesota – one with WCCO’s Esme Murphy and another with MPR’s Cathy Wurzer. 

Franken talks to MPR’s Cathy Wurzer on Nov 26, 2017

Two more accusers came forward on November 26, that Franken didn’t really respond to. 

When news broke on Dec 6 that there were two more accusers, that’s when Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called for him to step down, followed quickly that same day by a majority of Democratic Senators. That led to Franken’s resignation speech on Dec. 7.

See both Gillibrand’s and Franken’s speeches on the Consequences tab, above.

Scroll back up to the tabs to read more

Panel Discussion on Bill Maher with Chelsea Handler, Max Brooks, Carl Bernstein, Rebecca Traister

I’m a feminist. I study rape culture. And I don’t want Al Franken to resign, by Kate Harding in the Washington Post, Nov 17, 2017.  

SNL Women Offer Solidarity in Support of Franken – statement signed by 36 past and current female employees of SNL 

Female former staffers come to his defense, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Nov 19, 2017. 

“Many of us spent years working for Senator Franken in Minnesota and Washington. In our time working for the Senator, he treated us with the utmost respect. He valued our work and our opinions and was a champion for women both in the legislation he supported and in promoting women to leadership roles in our offices.”

Signing the statement were Katherine Blauvelt, Lianne Endo, Alexandra Fetissoff, Rachel Friedlander-Holm, Jessi Held, Anna Henderson, Lisbeth Kaufman, Natalie Volin Lehr, Jamie Drogin Lehman, Rachel Pike Norton, Karen Saxe, Charlotte Slaiman, Bethany Snyder, Ashley White.

136 female community leaders including current and former elected officials, non-profit board members, community leaders, and members of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party released the following statement in support of Franken on November 26, after his interviews announcing he’d be fighting to regain Minnesotan’s trust and to stay in his Senate seat: 

“We are longtime supporters of Senator Franken, and our support is rooted in the core values that we share. During his time in the Senate he has been a champion for these values and a steadfast supporter of women’s rights. While we are disappointed by these allegations, we appreciate that he has apologized and is committed to regaining the trust of Minnesotans. We believe a Senate investigation into these allegations is the appropriate course of action and will continue to support the Senator throughout this process.”

As published by PoliticsUSA.com on Dec 3, 2017 – including the names of all the women. 

After Franken resigned, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the senior senator from Franken’s home state of Minnesota, released this statement

Scroll back up to the tabs to read more

Big Picture Response Commentary

Blake Farenthold

Name: Blake Farenthold

Age: 

Role: U.S. Congressman (R-Tx),  leads the House Oversight subcommittee on the interior, energy and environment

Accusations: A former employee has accused Farenthold of sexually harassing her, and then retaliating against her when she filed a complaint about his behavior. He settled her claim for $84,000, a sum that was paid out of taxpayer funds. It was one of 6 settlements of various kinds paid out by the Congressman since 2013.

Consequences for his actions: The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Farenthold’s behavior. Farenthold not seek reelection. Read the House Ethics Committee’s statement.

Farenthold’s Response: Insists that he’s done nothing wrong.

Plaintiff Lauren Green’s original complaint: http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/farenthold_complaint_20141212.pdf

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/21/blake-farenthold-ethics-probe-313642

 

Click the Tabs to Read More

“Representative Blake Farenthold, Republican of Texas, used $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim, one of six settlements for workplace issues ranging from veteran status discrimination to age bias that were paid out by a secretive congressional office since 2013. The six settlements for malfeasance in House offices totaled $359,450.”

Taxpayers paid $84,000 to end Sex Harassment Claim Against Texas Lawmaker, The New York Times by Yamiche Alcindor and Gay Stolberg, Dec 1, 2017 

Lauren Greene, Farenthold’s former communications director

In 2014, the congressman’s former communications director, Lauren Greene, accused him of regularly making comments to gauge her interest in a sexual relationship, including saying he was having “sexual fantasies” about her. Ms. Greene accused Mr. Farenthold and his chief of staff, Bob Haueter, of retaliating after she complained about a hostile work environment.

Tab Content

Tab Content

Tab Content

 

 

Ruben Kihuen

Name: Ruben Kihuen

Age: 37

Role: U.S. Congressman (D-Nev)

Accusations: Four female colleagues have accused Kihuen of relentlessly persistent verbal sexual harassment, as well as inappropriate touching and requests for sex.

Consequences for his actions: Will not seek reelection in 2018, after being pressured to resign by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) and others.

Kihuen’s Response: Kihuen denies that he did anything wrong. He even went so far, in an interview with ABC News on Dec 5, to accuse the DCCC and Nancy Pelosi of having already investigated the claims of his first accuser and found them baseless – claims that are untrue. See the video with ABC in the tabs below.

In the statement he issued when he announced his resignation, he maintained his innocence. Read Kihuen’s full statement on NPR

 

Click the Tabs to Read More

Rubin Kihuen is a man who simply doesn’t get it that relentlessly pursuing subordinates who have repeatedly told you they aren’t interested isn’t fun and flirty – it’s sexual harassment. 

We know Kihuen is clueless, not only because he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing (so unless he’s an outright liar, which is always a possibility, he thinks his behavior was okay), but because one of the hundreds of unwelcome texts he sent to a lobbyist said, 

“I apologize…Can’t talk to you like this anymore, I’m officially a congressional candidate again,” shortly after announcing his Congressional bid. 

He apologized?!?! 

Clearly, he was laboring under the mistaken belief that this woman was enjoying the attention from him – when in reality she felt uncomfortable, annoyed … harassed. 

A total of four women have now reported this kind of relentless and unwelcome pursuit by Kihuen, and their stories are detailed on the “Accusers” tab. 

After the allegations from his first accuser, Samantha, came to light thanks to Buzz Feed, not only did the Congressman not agree to step down, he chose an interesting counter-offensive: spreading the blame around. 

In an interview with ABC News, Kihuen suggested that not only did the DCCC and Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) know about Samantha’s allegations previously, they looked into them and found them to be baseless – and then supported his campaign with millions of dollars. 

Accused sexual harasser Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev), spreading the blame around instead of taking responsibility for his behavior

Turns out, that’s completely false.

As ABC News reports, the DCCC didn’t look into Samantha’s claims at the time, because they weren’t given the detailed account that has been brought to light by Buzz Feed. 

An ethics committee investigation was opened on Dec. 10, 2017, as reported by The Nevada Independent by Riley Snyder on Dec 15, 2017.  

Kihuen announced on Dec 15, 2017 that he would not seek reelection. 

Scroll back up to the tabs to read more

Samantha

A 25-year-old woman named Samantha, whose last name has been withheld for her privacy, was Kihuen’s finance director during his campaign from December 2015 – April 2016. During that time Kihuen frequently asked her out on dates and propositioned her with unwelcome and repeated statements like, 

“‘You look really good, I’d like to take you out if you didn’t work for me”
“We should get a hotel room here.”
and asking her if she ever cheated on her boyfriend. 

She firmly told him no several times, but the harassment continued. He even laughed at her when she turned him down, leaving her feeling humiliated. 

She quit his campaign in frustration in April, 2015. She didn’t want to deal with his advances any longer, but also didn’t feel she had any recourse. 

She told a staffer at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the time that the reason she was leaving so abruptly is that Kihuen made her “uncomfortable.” That DCCC staffer told a colleague at the DCCC, who in turn told Kihuen’s campaign manager, Dave Chase. 

Chase confronted Kihuen, who told him nothing improper had occurred. After the Buzz Feed story was published, Chase said, “I believe Samantha and wish I had known her specific allegations when I confronted Ruben after she left the campaign or in time to stop what took place.”

Her story was brought to light by Buzz Feed on Dec 1 2017: 

She says she quit her campaign job after he harassed her. Now he’s in Congress
Buzz Feed News
by Kate Nocera & Tarini Parti
Dec 1, 2017

Anonymous Accuser #1

Another woman, a lobbyist, came forward to say that Kihuen relentlessly harassed her over a period of years – sending her hundreds of unwelcome text & Facebook messages, touching her thighs and her butt, playing with her hands or feet during meetings, and even twice asking for her address (she gave him fake ones both times) – all this, despite having told him no, firmly and repeatedly, on several occasions. 

She told her story on condition of anonymity to Megan Messerly of The Nevada Independent on Dec 13, 2017: Second Woman Accuses Kihuen of Persistent, Unwanted Sexual Advances in which they report that the text messages sent by Kihuen included: 

“What color are your panties?”
“[kissy emoji] How was your weekend?”
“You should come sit on my lap. I have more cushion than those seats.” 
“Not sure why you’re so scared of me”
“You didn’t come lobby me today [sad-face emoji].”
“I need a trophy date! Haha.” – after inviting her out to a Carson City bar
“You’re absolutely beautiful and unbelievably sexy”
“Love your dress”
“You looked so beautiful tonight…irresistible”
“So beautiful”
“You look fabulous in black”
“But I’m sure you look even better naked.” 

As far as how she reacted (or why she didn’t react more strongly), the Nevada Independnt reports these comments from the woman: 

“I was uncomfortable and I didn’t know what to think and I didn’t know how to react”
“You don’t want to bring attention to it, right? You’re trying to slightly, like, just kind of turn your body and shift your weight away from it.”
“Okay, this is kind of what my life is like now, I guess.”
“You don’t really know what to say when a [state] senator tells you, like, ‘Nice ass. You’re just like, ‘Thank you, bye, hi-de-ho.’”

“I was uncomfortable and I didn’t know what to think and I didn’t know how to react”

These allegations were also reported by NPR: 

Democrat Ruben Kihuen Won’t Seek Reelection Following Sexual Harassment Allegations
NPR.org
by Brakkton Booker
Dec 16, 2017

Anonymous Accuser #2

A 24-year-old D.C. businesswoman accuses Kihuen of having made unwelcome sexual advances toward her in the fall of 2017 while the Congressman’s campaign was a client of her firm. 

The Nevada Independent reports, “The woman described conduct [to us] that she said made her feel flustered and uncomfortable, including Kihuen asking at the office why she didn’t have a boyfriend, asking if she lived alone and offering to help her move up in her career — something she interpreted as a possible suggestion for sexual favors. At one fundraiser, she said, he rubbed her lower back and kissed her face several times.” 

She said some of her friends have asked why she didn’t reject him, outright.

“I’m not in a place to yell at a member of Congress and say ‘stop touching me’ because I just started my career,” she said. “He’s a member of Congress and a client of my firm … there’s just such a power dynamic that makes it so you can’t, really.”

He’s a member of Congress and a client of my firm … so you can’t, really. 

Women in DC says Congressman Kihuen made unwelcome overtures toward her this fall
The Nevada Independent
by Michelle Rindels
Dec 16, 2017

Anonymous Accuser #3

A woman who worked at the front desk of Kihuen’s condo building, who was 19 or 20 at the time (2014 and 2015), said she was initially flirtatious with Kihuen and gave him her number. But then the texts started coming late at night, and were increasingly inappropriate. He also would routinely comment on her clothes, and her butt. 

The woman asked him to stop texting her 2 or 3 times, and when he wouldn’t comply she just blocked his number. She also made it a habit to try and hide from him whenever she saw him at work, which was the condo building in which he lived. 

Reported in BuzzFeed, by Tarini Parti and Kate Nocera, Dec. 15, 2017

Pervasive Misconduct

As part of their investigation, Buzz Feed spoke to more than 30 men and women who had known Kihuen for years in Nevada politcs. They all reported that his penchant for being a playboy – relentlessly pursuing lots of women – was an “open secret.” 

While some excused that kind of behavior in a young, single guy, many observed that Kihuen was now a U.S. Congressman in his mid-30’s who needed to grow up and start acting more responsibly. 

Scroll back up to the tabs to read more

Kihuen announced on Dec 15, 2017 that he would not seek reelection in 2018. 

“In Congress, no one should face sexual harassment in order to work in an office or in a campaign. The young woman’s documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward,” Pelosi said in a statement after talking with Kihuen. “In light of these upsetting allegations, Congressman Kihuen should resign.”

Not only did Kihuen deny the allegations, he tried an interesting counter-offensive: spreading the blame around.

In a Dec 5 interview with ABC News, he suggested that he couldn’t possibly have done anything wrong because the DCCC and Nancy Pelosi had looked into it already. And besides, if he was guilty, so were they – because they gave his campaign millions of dollars even after finding out about the allegations. 

Accused sexual harasser Ruben Kihuen, spreading the blame around instead of taking responsibility for his behavior

All of that, according to reports, is complete hooey. 

As reported by ABC News, “Congressman Kihuen’s statement is not true,” Meredith Kelly, DCCC communications director, said. “We were presented with these disturbing facts for the first time last week, and the chair immediately called for his resignation.” 

A Kihuen spokesman did not respond to a request for documentation supporting Kihuen’s claims about the DCCC, Pelosi and Lujan. – ABC News, Dec 5, 2017 

Read Kihuen’s full statement, as printed on NPR

Tab Content

 

 

 

Joe Barton

Name: Joe Barton

Age: 68 (in 2017)

Role: U.S. Congressman (R-Tx), served as vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Accusations: Kelly Canon said Barton sent her unwanted, sexually inappropriate text messages. The text messages were published by the Star Telegram, Nov 17, 2017, by Anna M. Tinsley

Consequences for his actions: Will not seek reelection.

Barton’s Response: “There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside and let there be a new voice for the 6th district in Washington, so I am not going to run for re-election.”