Broadcaster and model Leeann Tweeden said on Thursday that Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken "forcibly kissed" and groped her during a 2006 USO tour. Franken has apologized and called for a Senate investigation into his own actions.
“You knew exactly what you were doing,” Tweeden wrote in a blog post. “You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later and be ashamed.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the Senate Ethics Committee to review the 11-year-old allegations against Franken, who first issued a brief statement of apology, then later a longer one in which he called for an investigation, saying, “I will gladly cooperate.”
Tweeden's 2006 USO tour was the ninth for the Fox Sports Network correspondent and fitness model, writes The Washington Post. Franken was an Air America radio host just months away from announcing his Senate candidacy.
It was on the 36-hour trip home to LA on a C-17 cargo plane from Afghanistan that Franken had someone take a photo of a sleeping Leeann Tweeden being in jest fondled by the Senator. The image has lived a long life on the Internet and has upset many Franken supporters -- including this one -- leaving many wondering if he should resign. Definitely if a second woman comes forward, Franken must resign at once.
Franken, previously a writer for Saturday Night Live, was quoted in a 1995 New York Magazine article discussing a skit for 'Saturday Night Live' that involved drugging and raping CBS reporter Lesley Stahl, writes Fox News.
“'I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then when Lesley is passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her.' Or ‘That’s why you never see Lesley until February.' Or, ‘When she passes out. I put her in various positions and take pictures of her,’” Franken was quoted saying.
The article, along with a 2000 Playboy column in which Franken talked about fantasizing a machine would perform oral sex on him, was used to attack Franken during his 2008 Senate campaign in Minnesota. Republican women also gathered to demand Franken explain himself, according to the Pioneer Press.
Franken eventually apologized for his crude remarks, but his subsequent comments in his book, “Al Franken: Giant of the Senate,” confirmed that he faked the apology to get the necessary support for his election win, according to The New York Times.
“To say I was sorry for writing a joke was to sell out my career, to sell out who I’d been my entire life,” the Senator wrote in his book. “And I wasn’t sorry that I had written Porn-o-Rama or pitched that stupid Lesley Stahl joke at 2 in the morning. I was just doing my job.”
Franken added: “I learned that campaigns have their own rules, their own laws of physics, and that if I wasn’t willing to accept that, I would never get to be a senator.”