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.”
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.
New woman claims Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010, grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair. https://t.co/O1PWjcpSQj
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 20, 2017
Photos courtesy of Getty.