Franken Asks For Ethics Investigation Of Himself Over Misconduct Allegations

Albin Lohr-Jones/SIPPL Sipa USA

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday asked for an ethics investigation into himself over a news anchor’s allegations that in 2006 he forcibly kissed her and groped her while she was asleep. He said he will “gladly cooperate” with such a probe.

“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women,” Franken said in a statement. “There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.”

Leeann Tweeden, a morning anchor on Los Angeles station KABC, on Thursday accused Franken of “aggressively” kissing her backstage on a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in 2006 and of later groping her while she was asleep, an act documented in a photograph. The alleged incidents occurred before Franken held public office.

“I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate,” Franken said. “The fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”

Franken said the photograph was “completely inappropriate.”

“It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me,” he said. “While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”

In an earlier statement, Franken offered Tweeden his “sincerest apologies” and said he “shouldn’t have done” what he did in the photograph.