Al Franken allegedly groped a woman’s butt at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010

Embed from Getty Images

Last week, I took a wait-and-see approach to the accusations about Senator Al Franken. His first accuser claimed that Franken had forcibly kissed her on a USO Tour in 2006, and that he groped her while she was asleep, and there was a photo. A second woman said that Franken became aggressive and even called her home repeatedly after they had a disagreement on Bill Maher’s old show. While both of those stories disturbed me, I was glad that Franken said he “welcomed” a Senate Ethics investigation. I also thought it was suspicious that the right-wing media seemingly latched onto the story full-throttle, and it seemed that at least one alt-right operative had a heads-up that something was going down ahead of time.

Conspiracy theories aside, though, we need to come together and just say that Al Franken should step down, and let the Democratic governor of Minnesota appoint a good Democrat to take his place. It now turns out that Al Franken groped a woman at the Minnesota State Fair when he was already a senator. Ugh.

A woman says Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010, telling CNN that he grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair. It is the first allegation of improper touching by Franken, who is a Democrat, while he was in office. It comes just days after Leeann Tweeden, a local radio news anchor in California, said that Franken forcibly kissed and groped her in 2006, when Franken was a comedian.

Lindsay Menz, a 33-year-old woman who now lives in Frisco, Texas, reached out to CNN on Thursday hours after Tweeden made her story public. Menz said she wanted to share an “uncomfortable” interaction that left her feeling “gross.” According to Menz, she attended the Minnesota State Fair with her husband and father in the summer of 2010, almost two years after Franken was elected to the Senate. Her father’s small business was sponsoring a local radio booth, and she spent the day meeting various elected officials, political candidates and celebrities and taking photos with them as they stopped by the booth.

When Franken walked in, Menz and her husband, who also spoke with CNN, said they recognized him right away. Menz said she had a brief and cordial exchange with the senator. Then, as her husband held up her phone and got ready to snap a photo of the two of them, Franken “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” Menz said. “It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”

“It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,” she said, recalling that the brazen act lasted three or four seconds. “I was like, oh my God, what’s happening.”

“He reached around her and kind of pulled her into him,” said her husband Jeremy Menz, who didn’t see what happened behind his wife. “He pulled her in and pushed his head against her head. It was over pretty quick.” Lindsay Menz told CNN that she walked away as soon as the photo was taken, without saying anything to the then-first term senator. When she reconnected with her husband moments later, she told him: “He totally grabbed my butt.” Jeremy Menz described that conversation the same way to CNN.

In a statement to CNN Sunday, Franken said he did not remember taking the photo with Menz and that he felt “badly” that she felt disrespected.

“I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture,” Franken said. “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”

“I felt gross. It’d be like being walking through the mall and some random person grabbing your butt,” Lindsay Menz said. “You just feel gross. Like ew, I want to wash that off of me.”

“I was upset. I wasn’t happy about it in the least,” Jeremy Menz said. “He was already gone and I wasn’t going to confront him. But yeah — I was in shock, really.”

[From CNN]

Menz goes on to say that she’s voted for Democrats and Republicans in the past and that she doesn’t have very strong opinions either way politically, and that her story isn’t about politics. Yeah. I’d be willing to bet that we’ll be getting more of these stories about Franken in the days and weeks to come. It would be better for everyone involved to just get him to resign now before he – and the party – are irretrievably tainted.

Embed from Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Getty.

 

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

44 Responses to “Al Franken allegedly groped a woman’s butt at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Saras says:

    My husband would have defended me wtf?

  2. QueenB says:

    So will we now believe women in EVERY case without doubt? Or are we still trying to poke holes in their stories?

    • Megan says:

      I believe Leeann Tweeden, but I also believe she colluded with Republicans to tell her story at the most politically opportune moment. Al Franken is an excellent distraction from the horrendous tax bill Republicans are trying to shore horn through Congress.

      • Jamie42 says:

        THIS. And now this woman comes forward with her interpretation of a routine photo that was probably one of many he took that day.

        A three-second alleged butt grab. Seven years ago. Clearly that’s enough to end his career.

      • Esmom says:

        Yes, I agree. I believe Tweeden but I also think the GOP is determined to take Franken down.

      • wood dragon says:

        The timing of this is what snagged my misgivings. That and the fact that Roger Stone signaled hours in advance that this was coming. There is a strategy at play here. Have no doubts on that score at least whatever your opinion of Franken.

      • THIS. I believe BOTH of these women, but even the worst offenders, the Roy Moores of the world, are entitled to DUE PROCESS. So we investigate. Whatever that means. I think that this needs probed (pardon the choice of words) ESPECIALLY in light of the timing, the varying severity of allegations (some bad and lecherous acts vs a legacy of abuse and grooming, etc). EVERY man who is accused needs to be treated in a similar manner and investigated. If we start just making everyone step down immediately without due process, we live up to the “witch hunt” moniker that they are throwing at us.

      • Robin says:

        Kind of like Roy Moore’s accusers waited until after the primary to come forward, when his name was already on the ballot. Wonder who in the Democrat party convinced them to wait?

      • Dj says:

        This. Tweeden allegedly got a big book deal & some kind of big deal from conservative Sinclair TV. I am sorry. But I want to know about the $15 million paid out in sexual harassment’s settlements from the House (Congress?) before Senator Franken steps down. Also, If Trump steps down from his accusers then I will call for Franken to step down but not before either of these things happen. IMO, this is payback from GOP for holding Sessions feet to the fire on his perjury testimonies in the Senate Committee hearings. Sessions was really pissed. That’s how Roger Stone knew about Franken “in the barrel” hours before it broke. GOP has been combing the earth for any kind of stories on Franken.

    • Renee says:

      @ QueenB Unfortunately from this thread, they are still “trying to poke holes in their stories”.

  3. Betsy says:

    Yeah, no. I believe her that that happened. I don’t believe that he intended to do that. In the thousands of pics he and other pols take at the great Minnesota State Fair, I’m going to go ahead and guess that occasionally their hands don’t land on lower backs, or that they even register they’ve got their hand on someone’s derrière. Especially with thousands surrounding, and her husband taking the picture.

    Full disclosure: I had my pic taken with Paul Wellstone at the Minnesota State Fair the year he was killed and I have had my pic taken with Franken at his DC Senate Office.

    • Menuita says:

      I think you know when you’re squeezing a butt cheek.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I was taking a pic with the actress who plays Lori from The Walking Dead, she was behind a table and she was holding my dog and I went to put my hand on my dog and I accidentally touched her boob. I was too embarrassed to say anything to her and I still get embarrassed to this day when I think about it. I pray she doesn’t think I did it on purpose.

    • Robin says:

      Wow, you’re really twisting yourself into a pretzel to defend the guy!

    • magnoliarose says:

      I think it is odd that a group of racist Trump supporters and ardent birthers including Tweeden met several weeks before and made a plan to hurt Al Franken. The receipts about the photo being photoshopped three years later in 2009 and Roger Stone using the same Franken image to mock Hilary. Roger Stone and is all over his site pushing this. Anything this man touches is a lie. I can’t stress that enough. He said they planned to target Dems and they are. Watch another one will come out, and the information will come from a Trump supporter. They are trying to normalize Roy Moore and Trump and are playing on the left’s urge to be SJWs as they did with the EMAILS!

      False equivalents are what Stone, Hannity, and crew specialize in and while they keep power and don’t get rid of anyone they convince the left that apples are oranges and lie. They made people believe Obama was not American for eight freaking years! These are those people. There is even a suspicious timeline and when the bots swarmed the internet with the story.

      I will never choose feminism over white supremacy and fascism, and I will never side with anyone who pushed birtherism, racism, antisemitism, smeared Trump’s accusers, celebrated all the Hollywood accused, excuses pedophile Moore and has a clear agenda. Anyone associated with Bannon, Infowars and Roger Stone can eff themselves. I feel that strongly.

      No, he should not resign. Politics affect people’s lives especially those without a voice, and I don’t think they care about a white supremacist liar versus a man who has worked tirelessly for their cause and women and rape victims. Based on Roger Stone. Nope.

      This case has nothing to do with others lets not conflate the issue. There have been other scandals including a politician bragging on his social media about all the women he harassed and took advantage of or the anti-gay congressman who is charged with sex trafficking a male minor. Remember the election?

  4. Veronica says:

    You know guys, 2017 is the year I just…I just can’t.

    You know what amazes me? Just totally blows my mind when I think about it? The fact that men, especially white cis heterosexual men, get to walk around all the time in this goddamn country knowing they aren’t directly or unknowingly contradicting their person by their political and social interaction every single day. I just want to see how that feels to just wake up every day without the fear hanging over your head that some prick, somewhere is secretly making your life harder while he exploits your vote.

    I have an entire political party dedicating their lives to completely screwing over my reality because of my gender, and now I get to eat shit and find out that the men on the other side are just as repugnant, sexist, and demeaning in all the other ugly, insidious ways women get dicked over on a regular basis. And yes, yes, this isn’t the same thing as the Moore cases AT ALL, but I feel like it all stems from the same rot. I’m not asking for complicated shit here, you know? I just want a human being who calls himself a man to treat me, a person who calls their self a woman, a human being. That is all I am asking for. Basic ass respect and courtesy. And God, I am so tired, SO tired already. It has been been a year since this administration got into office, and I understand it now. I get why people in Germany 1939 gave up. The sheer fatigue from the constant worry and terror of people who literally hate you simply for BEING is just debilitating.

    I don’t want to be this angry all the time. I don’t want to hate, resent, and distrust men as much as I’ve learned to do so them this year. But I’m out of benefits of the doubt. I’m out of second chances. I’m just tired. I’m SO tired. I work two jobs and attend school full time, and I want to be a doctor, and I CAN’T EVEN DO THAT WITHOUT WORRY. I CAN’T EVEN PURSUE THE VERY FREEDOMS THIS STUPID COUNTRY PROMISES because some dick, somewhere wants to tax me on my goddamn school interest, wants to tell me I shouldn’t have access to affordable birth control, wants to grab my ass in a photo or ignore the three degrees on my resume because I’m not thin enough, not pretty enough, speak my mind, have the audacity to WANT and demand something like basic human dignity, and I just.

    I read the news this morning, and I almost cried. What about this country makes it so hard to treat decently? Was there any time where it wasn’t rotten all the way down the root? Because I’ve spent a lot of 2017 learning how to hate it. I want to know if it was ever worth loving it.

    • Juls says:

      You just said it all Veronica. Thank you.

    • Robin says:

      The Dems, like Bill Clinton, are just as bad, if not worse, than the Reps. Even worse is the fact that two decades ago, some of us were calling for Clinton to be held responsible for his odious actions, and were mocked for it, while almost the entire Dem party and its supporters made excuses for him. And it’s certainly not only this country where women are sometimes treated poorly, and it’s incredibly naive to think that women here have things so much worse than in other countries.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Please with the Clinton. It is 2017 and we have issues today that need to be dealt with. And No political party is immune or better and definitely not a party that nominated a man who confessed on tape like 45. So stop.

      • Veronica says:

        I’m working on my second bachelors degree (third degree overall, and I’m starting a doctorate in a year) with a liberal focus in women’s studies. Assuming that I’m poorly educated on the nature of global women’s rights is pretty presumptive of you, so let me correct your notion that I’m a naive fool right now:

        What you are attempting to do is deflect the validity of my argument by presenting a strawman, when in reality I neither suggested that the Democrats have a perfect record on women’s issues nor did I suggest that the struggles of an American woman (particularly for myself, as a white woman, albeit one of LGBT+ persuasion) is comparable or more severe to those in countries with more problematic human rights violations. I am not an idiot. I am well aware that I have certain opportunities afforded to me by the wealth of my country. However, suggesting that American women have it “good enough,” when in reality there are plenty of gender related prejudices still present that should be addressed, and even more dramatic social injustices prevalent when women are subdivided into racial categories, is obnoxious. Two people who show up in the ER, one with a broken leg and the other with 25% body burn, are still going to get treated by a doctor, we just recognize has a more serious condition.

        The point of my frustration, which seems to have been widely misinterpreted here, is that it’s bullshit that women have to make these compromises on a regular basis where their rights are concerned. If I have one party attempting to push through legislation that would destroy women’s right to abortion, birth control, and who actually argue that women aren’t equal under the law, I should damn well have the choice to support a politician for whom women’s rights are a priority issue, where respect for women is a given, and the fact that I don’t have that is an outrage. The fact that I have to wake up every morning and find out that men (and women!) can’t be trusted to do basic ass courtesies like NOT groping strangers or demeaning women is infuriating.

        It is the year 2017, and I live in a country that’s meant to be based on the idea of freedom and certain inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and I am tired of it failing to meet that promise for everybody in it. I reject the notion that “good enough” is good enough.

    • The Other Katherine says:

      I am HERE for this rant. Thank you for writing it. And I am sorry all the crap is so g-d exhausting. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

  5. Anniefannie says:

    I feel it’s only fair to share an awkward photo op gone wrong. I was at a Bill Clinton fund raising event for Claire McCaskill in St Louis and waited in line prior to the event to take a pic w/Clinton. When it came time to take the pic I raised my arm at the same time Cinton did and it was trapped by him so my hand totally grazed his ass on the way up his back.
    I was mortified and in the pic I’m bright red.
    It happened so quickly it couldn’t have been planned or avoided. My bro says he’s anxiously awaiting Bills #me too tweet outing me….

  6. Mary says:

    Wow. Hypocrisy at its finest in these comments! And please don’t bring up Bill Clinton when discussing sexual harassment & violence against women. There’s lot of interesting stories of how “feminists” were his victims enemies while he was president. I don’t agree with Chelsea Handler on much, but I believe Juanita! I can’t care anymore about party lines when it comes to this topic. Women need to band together and say No More!

  7. S says:

    Al Franken has been a public figure for decades, as a comedian and SNL cast member and now a prominent politician. In a State Fair photo op situation I’d guess he took pictures with 100 people just THAT DAY.

    I’m not saying the women is lying — seriously, I’m not — but if he touched her butt, it’s totally possible it wasn’t intentional. I know I’ve taken some photos with people and inadvertently did stupid stuff, including brushing against areas I maybe shouldn’t just because I’m a dork combined with trying to be as quick as possible, to not take up their time, etc. I can only imagine the numbness you fall into if you’re posing for shots like that ALL DAY. Not an excuse, just a reasonable alternative explanation.

    If Franken’s habit is to grope women publicly during a public appearance, in posed photos taken by their husbands, no less, there will dozens, if not more, women to come forward. If that happens then, yeah, he should resign, ASAP.

    But, right now, I’m definitely not ready to cancel Franken, or anyone else, based on two very, to my mind, mild accounts of inappropriate behavior. If you’ve seen the video of the USO show he and Leeann Tweeden (https://twitter.com/PromoteMyCause/status/931967228085497856) were in, it’s just doesn’t line up well, to my mind, with what she alleges.

    I have no idea what happened in that rehearsal she talked about, but she definitely didn’t turn her head to give him her cheek, as she contended she did, in all future performances. Also, the whole JOKE in the skit is that Franken wrote it in order to kiss her…Like, that’s the gag, not a plot by him. It also very much appears that kissing/groping was Leeann’s whole schtick on all her USO tours. She grabbed musician’s butts on stage, she rubbed up against and smacked Robin Williams’ behind during another show, and did the same with soldiers in the crowd … All to great applause. I don’t think Leeann is a sexual assaulter, and (sincere) kudos to her for entertaining the troops so often, and I don’t think Al Franken in that scene is either. I think it’s just a bawdy USO skit for a bunch of soldiers far from home (and far from their wives and girlfriends), based around the idea that Leeann is a hugely desirable woman. I see her actions, and Franken’s, in context, as very much par for the course.

    To make them into something else feels like a Right wing stunt (Tweeden is a right wing radio host with frequent appearances on FoxNews) to try and weaponize the #metoo movement against their opponents, and if it works with Franken, they will use it on anyone and, as I said elsewhere, it’s gonna be pretty hard to find a man over 14 who HASN’T done or said at least one questionable thing in his lifetime when it comes to women. Heck, I know you could find some objectifying photos and/or comments I’ve made. Am I a harasser for sending shirtless Thor gifs to my friends in jest with captions like, “he can hammer me anytime,” to make them giggle? Or talking to a co-worker something along the lines of, “is it getting warm in here, or is it just me,” while watching some athletes (I worked in sports) workout shirtless? I certainly didn’t intend it in a harassing matter, but couple it with a photo I have of me putting my hand under a fairly well-known athlete’s shirt (I was adjusting his mic, but it certainly looks like I was feeling him up, which is why my friend took the pic), I see how it could be twisted into something I never even considered.

  8. wood dragon says:

    The political timing of all this is what raises my eyebrow.

  9. Skippy says:

    My neighbor, a man, is tired of seeing “all this sexual harassment stuff on the news”. He would rather see more indictments from Mueller. Well, I had to agree with the last part. But I thought about it and no, I am not tired of seeing the sexual harassment stuff on the news. For many of us women, this is part of our lives.
    Rarely spoken about, even with each other, I think anyway.
    What would be the point, I thought. as a woman, I would just have been called a lier or a bitch if I had complained. If I had gone to the boss, police or whoever I feel I would have just been ignored. Or I would have gotten, oh yeah, we’ll check this out, which also means oh yeah, goodbye and get lost. So much of women’s lives are ignored and brushed away with a hand wave.
    Or women are ridiculous or hysterical or emotional. Men are superior because they are not emotional. That whole attitude.
    I will be honest and say I feel so blessed to be single and old. Because when you are old the sexual harassment stops. Horray!
    But not the male attitude toward women as inferior to them.

  10. chisey says:

    I am so disappointed by all of this. Yes, being accused of groping a grown woman in a photo is not the same thing as being accused of sexually pursuing multiple teenage girls the way that Roy Moore was. But it’s still unacceptable. A woman I know dismissed the Franken allegations by saying that he has been accused of doing what ‘literally every teenage boy has done’, which was so disappointing. Has literally every teenage boy really groped a woman? I highly doubt it. Is that our expectation? I guess so, which is so disheartening. To my mind, this is totally different from telling an offensive joke or sharing an explicit picture. This is mistreating an actual human person, deciding that you can touch her whenever you like and it’s not a big deal. It’s a big deal to the woman in question.

    I fully believe that there was political machinery at work behind the timing of these allegations. I would be surprised if the Republican opposition research people weren’t currently burning the candle at both ends to find sexual impropriety allegations against any prominent Democrat, to try and see if they can spin this whole mess into ‘it’s not just Republicans, it’s ALL of Washington, so no need to stop voting for us come election day’. I also think that Roy Moore’s Democratic opponent is making hay out of the allegations against Moore (heck, Moore is making hay out of the allegations against Moore). But I don’t think it’s right to just shrug and dismiss sexual harassment allegations simply because they have a political bent. That’s what happened with Bill Clinton, I think – everyone decided that it was a Republican smear job (and honestly, I bet the Republicans were heavily involved in uncovering that stuff) so whatever, it’s not legit, or it’s not important, or we don’t need to worry about it. Can we please not do that again, world? I thought that Al Franken was a really good senator whose work I admired a lot. But I’m not cool with dismissing or underplaying these allegations because of it. If someone groped me, in a picture or otherwise, I would be really upset. I’m not prepared to just say it’s something that everyone does, so we shouldn’t get worked up.