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.
Other woman senators made similar remarks on Twitter and in releases:
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.