A Republican state lawmaker in Minnesota argued this week that she should not meet with a group of high school students because by doing so she would risk being falsely accused of sexual misconduct.
In a Facebook post explaining her refusal to meet with student members of the Alexandria Area High School Democrats, Franson alluded to Roy Moore, the Alabama GOP Senate candidate accused of initiating an inappropriate sexual relationship with a high school girl while he was in his 30s.
“A man’s life was destroyed in AL,” Franson wrote in a Facebook message seen by ThinkProgress. “40 years ago he met with minors alone and they recently accused him of horrendous actions. In the world of we must believe every sexual harassment claim, I would think my approach is beyond reasonable. All it takes is one perceived action and my life is destroyed. The life of my family is destroyed. That is a risk I will not take.”
Franson was not immediately available for comment to TPM.
Her explanation came after she initially refused to meet with the group in her office. She told the students on Twitter that she would not meet with partisan groups in her office.
I don’t meet with partisan groups in my office – besides, isn’t your group actively campaigning against me? One of your members is soliciting funds for my opponent. Also, why aren’t you trying to meet with Senator Ingebrigtson 🤨
— Rep. Mary Franson (@RepMaryFranson) December 16, 2017
Franson told Minneapolis television station KMSP on Monday that she offered to meet with the students in a public place but said she would not sit down with them in private. She said it has “nothing to do with me not wanting to meet with Democrats, it has everything to do with we all have to be careful in today’s world.”
Jack Ballou, the founder of the AAHS Democrats, told ThinkProgress that he was “shocked” by Franson’s Facebook post referencing Moore. He has been blocked by Franson on social media, but ThinkProgress told him about the Facebook post.
“If any of what she said was true, she could have just told us initially that she doesn’t meet with minors,” Ballou told ThinkProgress. “I’m also so confused how she started defending Roy Moore… last year I met with Mary through the student page program, one on one at her office. She had no issue then.”