I thought Senator Al Franken might pull free of the sexual harassment allegations leveled against him by Leann Tweeden last week. As these horrible things go, Franken handled it best he could: He apologized publicly; he took responsibility; he did not disparage Tweeden; and he apologized personally to Tweeden, and she accepted his apology. He even welcomed an investigation. Moreover, several female staffers came forward to vouch for Franken, and many had essentially come around to, “Well, what he did was super gross, but it wasn’t predatory.” As long as no other allegations came forward, it appeared as though Franken’s political career would survive this.
And then CNN reported this:
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.
Basically, Franken grabbed Lindsay Menz’ butt while he was taking a photo with her, and she said so on Facebook at the time.
Menz posted the photo with Franken on Facebook at the time, on August 27, 2010. Her sister, Cari Thunker, commented under the photo: “Sorry, but you two aren’t Bibles (sic) width apart” — a reference, Thunker explained to CNN, to how physically close Menz and Franken were in the photo.
Menz responded to her sister on Facebook: “Dude — Al Franken TOTALLY molested me! Creeper!” (The exchange is visible to Menz’s Facebook friends.)
Franken, by the way, did this in full view of of Menz’ husband. Franken’s hand “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. I was like, oh my God, what’s happening.”
And look: If Franken did that in one photo of the thousands he has taken, you can bet your ass he’s done it in others. Is it as bad as what Roy Moore is accused of? Who the fuck cares? It’s bad. It’s disrespectful. It’s gross, and it illustrates that Franken believed his power as both a man and a Senator gave him a free pass to grab a woman’s butt. It’s not OK.