By Thomas Phippen
Democratic Minnesota Sen. Al Franken issued an apology for recent accusations of inappropriate touching during photos and said that he is committed to earning back his constituents’ trust.
“Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that,” Franken said in the statement issued to CNN. “I’ve thought a lot in recent days about how that could happen, and recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations.”
“I feel terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again,” Franken said. “And let me say again to Minnesotans that I’m sorry for putting them through this and I’m committed to regaining their trust.”
News anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken on Nov. 16 of forcefully kissing her during a USO tour in 2006 and released a photo of the senator with his hands on her chest as she slept. Shortly after another woman accused Franken of groping her during a photo op.
Lindsay Menz, now 33, said that during a photo op at the Minessota State Fair in 2010, Franken, then a senator, touched her bottom and made her feel “gross.” Franken “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.”
Franken’s Thanksgiving day statement came after a Politico/Morning Consult poll showed half of voters want Franken to resign his Senate seat. The survey shows 49 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of independents believe Franken should step down.
A larger majoryty — 66 percent — believe the Senate Committee on Ethics should investigate Franken’s behavior, with 15 percent saying it should not open a probe and 15 percent responding they didn’t know or had no opinion. The poll was conducted after Tweeden’s accusations but before Menz came forward with her story.