November 21, 2017 05:24 AM
A woman says Al Franken pulled her in tightly and put his hand on her buttocks in 2010 while posing for a picture at the Minnesota State Fair, the second allegation of improper conduct against the Democrat and first involving his time as a senator.
Lindsay Menz told CNN last week for a report broadcast Monday that the interaction with the Minnesota senator made her feel "gross." She said she immediately told her husband that Franken had "grabbed" her bottom and that she posted about it on Facebook.
Menz's story comes days after a Los Angeles broadcaster, Leeann Tweeden, accused Franken of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour.
Franken already faced a Senate ethics investigation over Tweeden's allegation, but the Menz allegation is potentially more damaging for Franken because it would be behavior that occurred while he was in office.
Franken's deputy chief of staff said in an email to KSTP Monday night that the Democratic senator said he didn't remember taking the photo with Menz, but that he feels badly that she felt disrespected.
"I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture," the statement, attributed to Franken, read. "I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."
A woman tells CNN that Al Franken grabbed her buttocks while she was taking a photo with the sitting US senator in 2010. Franken says he doesn’t remember the photo and feels “badly” that she felt disrespected. https://t.co/MlOuFCqKai pic.twitter.com/yHTbGR34gC— CNN (@CNN) November 20, 2017
With the Capitol empty due to Thanksgiving break, reaction to the latest allegation against Franken were muted compared to an outcry last week — and Democrats nationally and in Minnesota were silent.
On Monday morning, Menz's father Mark Brown said that while he did not see the alleged incident, he was nearby at the time, and his daughter told him what had happened immediately afterward.
"I just remember that Lindsay was really upset when it was over," Brown recalled. "And I walked around and talked to her and her husband Jeremy, and she goes, 'he just pinched my butt,' or, you know, something like that."
Asked if Franken may have touched Menz by mistake, Brown said "no."
"It was just shocking that someone did that, let alone a guy who's our senator," he added. "Probably time for him to resign and face the music and let somebody else, you know, be the senator."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, repeated a statement from Thursday calling for an ethics investigation of Franken.
After publicly denouncing Franken's conduct and supporting that investigation last week, no powerful Democrats had spoken out by Monday afternoon about Menz's allegations.
Meanwhile, a group of 36 current and former Saturday Night Live female employees released a statement in support of Franken Monday night. It said his apology to Tweeden was appropriate, and that while what he did was "stupid and foolish" they know Franken to be a "devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant.
"That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard."
Menz, 33, who now lives in Frisco, Texas, said her father's business was sponsoring a radio booth at the Minnesota fair and that she took photos with several elected officials and political candidates as they stopped at the booth.
She said as she posed with Franken, he "pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear," Menz said. "It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek."
Menz said she told her husband, Jeremy Menz, and father about it right away. Both men affirmed that to CNN. Menz also said she posted the photo with Franken on Facebook on Aug. 27, 2010, and when her sister commented on the photo, she replied: "Dude -- Al Franken TOTALLY molested me! Creeper!"
The AP was not able to immediately view her account to verify the post.
Franken, 66, is the latest public figure to be caught in the deluge of accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct nationwide.
He has apologized to Tweeden, and she has accepted the apology, but a handful of Democrats have called for him to resign. Republicans, still forced to answer for the multiple allegations facing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, joined in pressing for an expected investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. Franken said he would welcome it.
Franken canceled a sold-out book festival appearance scheduled for Monday in Atlanta to speak and promote his book, "Al Franken, Giant of the Senate." He hasn't appeared in public since Tweeden's allegation.
KSTP's Josh Rosenthal contributed to this report.
The Associated Press
Updated: November 21, 2017 05:24 AM
Created: November 20, 2017 09:13 AM
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)