Several Democratic woman senators called on Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign Wednesday morning in the wake of a number of sexual harassment accusations made against him. In what appeared to be a coordinated effort, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), as well as others, all released statements around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Gillibrand published a lengthy statement on her Facebook page, titled, “Senator Franken Should Step Aside.” In it, she wrote, “The pervasiveness of sexual harassment and the experience women face every day across America within the existing power structure of society has finally come out of the shadows. It is a moment that we as a country cannot afford to ignore.”
TIME Magazine, by naming ‘The Silence Breakers’ as their ‘People of the Year,’ is recognizing what women have always known: there are men among us who use their positions of power and influence to manipulate, harass, and assault women. What is new here is the women.
We are, all of us, speaking out, naming names and demanding that the harassers take responsibility for their behavior. I am proud of each of the women who has come forward, and heartened by the changing climate that has received their stories with acceptance and compassion.
Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women. (thread)
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) December 6, 2017
I believe it is best for Senator Franken to resign.
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) December 6, 2017
Al Franken should resign.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) December 6, 2017
Other woman senators made similar remarks on Twitter and in releases:
It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women. He should resign.
— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) December 6, 2017
Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 6, 2017
I’m shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior. It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time.
It’s time for him to step aside.
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) December 6, 2017
Within an hour, 11 Democrats had released similar statements.
The calls for Franken to step aside come just hours after Politico reported that yet another woman had accused Franken of trying to forcibly kiss her in 2006, bringing the total number of women accusing Franken to seven. The unnamed woman told Politico that when she rejected Franken’s advances, he told her, “It’s my right as an entertainer.”
Franken denied the allegation in a statement to Politico, saying, “This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”
The statements from Franken’s colleagues Wednesday also come just one day after Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) announced he would be retiring from the House. Conyers, too, is facing a firestorm of sexual harassment and abuse allegations from women he employed previously.
Top Democrats have started to take up the reins as well, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday calling for Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) to resign after BuzzFeed reported the story of woman who claimed Kihuen sexually harassed her when she was his campaign finance director.
Last week, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) was also publicly named as the first sitting member of Congress known to have used a Congressional account to settle an $84,000 sexual harassment claim. Farenthold announced Monday that he would pay back the $84,000 in taxpayer dollars.