Radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden has accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., of kissing and groping her more than a decade ago during a backstage rehearsal for a USO show.I wish that Al Franken would run again to be Minnesota’s US senator.
My bias is towards believing women when they allege inappropriate sexual overtures by male colleagues. But in the US Congress, if the offending party is asking for and publicly states his willingness to undergo a thorough ethics investigation by his peers, then that should be granted before he is subjected to the death penalty.
In this case, I have serious doubts about the context regarding the public unveiling of a provocative photo taken during a 2006 USO tour where Mr. Franken is shown touching Ms. Lee Ann Tweeden’s breasts while she’s fully clothed but appears to be asleep. It was this photo that was the catalyst for Senator Franken feeling forced to resign in the #Me,Too era, (12/ 2017) without any truth determining process. There were other women who came forward to tell of instances like an unwanted butt tap, an unsolicited kiss, etc. I’ll list the reasons for my doubts about the smoking gun compromising photo, below.
But just as there’s a difference between murder and shoplifting a piece of gum, there are differences when an adult participates in sexual inappropriate behaviors as in instances like a boss demanding sexual favors by an employee, and someone who’s accused of planting an unwanted pat on the butt of a female.
Contrary to the Democratic Party’s NY Senator Gillibrand’s desire for -0- tolerance for any and all sexual inappropriateness, there needs to be a conversation about what the consequences should be in each individual case with a sense towards proportionality. The standard should be to start with an ethics review for all those accused, before one’s resignation is required. Just as in any business environment, the offending party could face consequences from being given a warning to cease and desist from certain behaviors to being out-rightly fired, subsequent to an investigative process.
What’s worse is that Senator Gillibrand’s handling of a #Me,Too case regarding one of her staff, was very different from what she subjected Senator Franken to, for political expediency. The facts of this story are detailed below but, in short, the staffer who filed a sexual harassment complaint against the senator’s aide Abbas Malik, resigned because her assertions had not been given serious consideration. Mr. Malik was forced to resign only after there was proof provided about other similar allegations.
Here are the reasons I have doubts about that photo taken during a 2006 USO tour where Mr. Franken is shown touching Ms. Lee Ann Tweeden’s breasts while she’s fully clothed but appears to be asleep.
1.) Al Franken’s brother who took the photo describes the context of what happened very differently from Ms. Tweeden’s version.
2.) She had been a frequent guest of “Hannity” on Fox News.
3.) Does this have a familiar ring? As per a 11/16 Daily Caller report, “Famed Republican political operative Roger Stone knew that a news anchor would accuse Democratic Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of sexual assault.”
“Let’s just say Sen. Franken’s time in the barrel is about to come,” Stone told The Daily Caller over text early Thursday morning, hours before Leeann Tweeden came out with her claims.”
“Stone, a longtime political adviser to President Trump, is known for his “dirty tricks.” He did not elaborate to The DC how he knew Tweeden was going to come out with her claims”.
4.) Ms. LeeAnn Tweedon had a history of being in provocative photos in order to garner added publicity.
5.) Here’s a 12/6/2017 tweet by Tom Arnold that casts doubt on Ms. Tweeden’s assertions:
I’m disappointed with my friend Leeann Tweedon. Her partner at KABC John Phillips is a Roger Stone pal & they coached her for weeks to bring Al Franken down. I’d hoped she’d use her voice to speak out for all women again predators like Roy Moore & Donald Trump but she’s a birther
Here’s the rest of the story…
On March 11. 2019, Sarah Jones of New York Magazine penned the following report, “Kirsten Gillibrand Can’t Afford a #MeToo Problem”
“Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s early support for the resignation of Senator Al Franken cost her the backing of some major Democratic donors. But the NY Democrat now faces a sexual harassment crisis of her own, and the reverberations could jeopardize her new presidential campaign.”
“On 3/11/2019, Politico reported that Gillibrand continued to employ a male aide, Abbas Malik, after a female staffer reported him for sexual harassment. The female staffer eventually resigned. In a letter published by Politico, the woman told the senator’s top aides at the time that she had “trusted and leaned on this statement that you made: ‘You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable.’” But that doesn’t comport with the treatment she received in Gillibrand’s office, she says.”
“As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability,” Gillibrand told Politico in a statement. “That’s exactly what happened at every step of this case last year. I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today.”
“The aide, Malik, has since been fired, but Politico says the termination occurred after its reporters presented additional misconduct complaints to Gillibrand’s office. At least one of those complaints came from a source that Malik’s original accuser had told Gillibrand’s office to contact.”
“I knew that calling on Al Franken to resign was a risk, but silence wasn’t an option. I’m running for president to fight for a country that values women, and I’m ready to share this vision with the American people. Will you give $1 to help us bring our vision to the debate stage?”
Doing the right thing was an option. Supporting an investigation like you did for your own employee was an option. Do you think Sen. Al Franken deserved any less? Remaining silent was not your only option. You won’t gain my support.
VerySpecialSnowFlake @miamidecor 13 hours ago
replying to @SenGillibrand
My God! Everytime I forget what it is about you that rubs me the wrong way, you remind me! Unless & until you ADMIT, ACCEPT & APOLOGIZE for your stupid mistake pushing
#AlFranken out, YOU CAN FORGET ABOUT MY SUPPORT!
What an awful thing to use as a fund raiser. Al Franken asked for due process but playing politics was too important to you.
Getting rid of a rival was of utmost importance as well.
It was an opportunistic move on your part. You thought you could damage a rival and you did.
And this is exactly why I will campaign against you.
#NoRespectForYou #NoTimeForYou #NoMoneyForYou #ByeFelicia
The allegations against senator Franken were NOT credible! You know he was set up and you keep using him to try to advance your political standing. You should be ashamed. I’d vote for
@alfranken for president before I’d ever vote for you. #Franken2020
Amen. What was done to Franken was such a blatant sham
Ma’am, I’m not sure who your advisors are, but this message is not to your advantage. It’s an “in your face” to many who believe the former senator didn’t get his due process.
I do not agree with you on Al Franken. You will not get my donation.
I’m a Dem from your state, but Nope. Al Franken was a deal-breaker.
Ballsy enough to bring up the Al Franken situation. It was a calculated risk on your part that will most likely be your most prominent identifying feature in a huge field of Democratic contenders. I think it will be the one that kills your shot at the office
Absolutely not — You should look into due process it’s a thing and you’re a sanctimonious bully. I can’t believe you’d fund raise on this — it was over-reach.
How is it the right thing to do when there was no investigation? Resign for taking a funny picture? Resign because Roger Stone created a false narrative? A terrible decision on your part to lose one of our most powerful voices.
Cindy Davis @cdopera 16 hours ago
Your campaign does nothing to dispel the strong suspicion many had that your actions were politically motivated. If this fund drive fails to pull in the revenue you hoped for, as I suspect it will, you can always put up for auction the knife you stuck in Sen. Franken’s back.
That is the reason I won’t support you in the primary. Nice way to rub my nose in it. You were wrong and it cost the Democratic Party a powerful voice. I would trade you to have Franken back any day.
Nope. Al Franken was a great senator. I cannot forgive you for that. He was a decent man who did care about women’s rights.
Hate to say it, but Al Franken will be in the first paragraph of your obituary.
Who are you trying to convince, other people or yourself? Please, girl. You threw him under the bus and you know it. Then ran over him a few extra times for good measure. You will get my vote when hell freezes over. The end.
No, it was wrong. Thats what it was.
Well, that one thing you thought was the right thing, was a very wrong thing for many people. Not forgotten, not forgiven, zero chance of winning the primary
I think giving him his “day in court” so to speak, would have been the correct move.
Nope. Due process means something – apparently not to you though
this fundraising line feels a bit awkward. the number of negative replies is kind of shocking, and sooo many from democrat women voters! guess a lot of ppl, including myself, love/loved
@alfranken enough to think he deserved due process. hope u fired whoever approved this ad. @alfranken come back. We need you. Run for President.
Hell no. Your loud and clear call for him to resign was grandstanding and backfired. How about due process? How about letting voters decide? That “risk” will cost you dearly. We’ll never forget you were the lead in giving up a Dem senate seat.
How’s this working out for you? Not the way you thought it would, I bet. You’ll not get one red cent from me because of what you did to
@alfranken. We needed his intelligence in the Senate and you cost us dearly.
You miscalculated. Thankfully, we have many other Dem choices.
Oh yeah, now I remember why I don’t like you.
I just figured out why I won’t be voting for her.
Nope. But thanks for playing.
It was reckless and showed your lack and patience and due diligence. So for this reason only you will not have my Minnesota support. You removed my voice in the senate.
So this is an UNSOLICITED ad placed on my timeline from Twitter.
No, that was poor judgment on Frankel. Will vote for you if you become Democratic candidate. But no support whatsoever until then.
Oh, & btw, you’re right; Sen. Franken COULD have “stuck it out” & gone thru the ethics process. But he was smart enough to realize that for the good of his PARTY, it was best he step aside. You see, he has INTEGRITY – something YOU clearly lack.
No. Senator Al Franken.
Nope! I prefer Al Frankin
You will soon be a question in the 2020 edition of Trivial Pursuit….
Not at this time. You said there were 8 credible accusations against Sen. Franken. Some were anonymous as I recall (can’t be verified as credible). One complained he put his hand on her waist while taking a picture. Really?
No. And quit using your kids as props.
My problem with Al Franken is that he is not a fighter, he gave in and up almost immediately. We need fighters.
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In this case we were dealing with a decent man who got caught with his head facing glaring headlights with no warning. He wasn’t even getting support from many of his own colleagues.
I don’t want GOP dirty tricksters getting away with this type of activity. He was targeted because of his talent. I’m tired of seeing this happening over and over again.
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I am too and agree wholeheartedly. I think Al Franken was targeted by the dirty tricks of the GOP, I think he should have held his head up and fought against it.
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Gronda, while Franken did something stupid, there was an element of being set-up on other actions. On this point, I think he was viewed as a formidable counterbalance to Trump either in his role as a Senator or future Presidential candidate. Why? Because he was prepared, doing his homework and asking good questions, the polar oppposite of the US President.
As for the set-up, we have to remember what Watergate was all about. Trump and Committee to Relelect the President (whose acronym was appropriate as CREP), wanted to make sure they ran against George McGovern and not Edmund Muskie, who was a more formidable opponent – Roger Stone was a part of CREP. Dems need to be mindful of Trump and foreign subterfuge. McGovern was a very liberal candidafe that did not play well in swing states. Keith
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PS – That should say Nixon and the Committee….
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You’ve figured it out. President Trump and his GOP cronies wanted Senator Al Franken, out of the picture.
I wish Sen. Al Franken had held his ground but he was just so blind-sighted. Like any decent man he was probably reviewing in his head how could he have such a different recollection of events. Then he would have felt bad without ever thinking that it was all a set up. In the show biz world, folks hug and are a bit more informal. There’s no ill intent.
Frankly, I’m guessing that he was genuinely mortified. President Trump and Roger Stone would look upon him as a loser. They wouldn’t get a guy worrying that he hurt someone, even inadvertently.
Forget the US Senate, I wish he had the chutzpah to run for the presidency. While he wouldn’t win, he could block President Trump from harming others. He could change the game rules.
Hello Gronda. The first thought when one hears about sexual harassment is “what guy did what this time”? The reality is it is a human failing both sexes are guilty of. Also as you mentioned people tend to stand by those they have known for some time rather than even look into creditable accusations. I wonder if this is a problem in the rest of the developed world or is it due to our puritanical history and the issues our country can not seem to face about sex and gender? Hugs
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I look at complaints of sexual harassment within the parameters of degree but I start with believing the complainant but from there I would investigate thoroughly.
In my earlier Mad Men work days, I came across cases where women complained of harassment. In one case the employee/ stalker tried to run down one of his female colleagues with a car. The police were called and the employee was fired faster than a speeding bullet.
Then there is the case of the very attractive blond female professional who looked great but after an investigation done very surreptitiously, it turned out she was like that woman in fatal attraction. Of course, she left the company as soon as she realized her goose was cooked.
Fortunately most cases are in the middle of these two extremes. Personally, I prefer ironing out misunderstandings were both parties are heard. This is the initial step where the law of the land is laid down, like all inappropriate behaviors are to cease and that there will be no spreading of rumors, retaliation, etc. If either party did not abide by the rules, they were gone.
If the offense involves a boss/ subordinate position, and there was any proof, the boss would be shown the exit door. A company who strives to create a healthy work environment can’t afford to keep a male executive who can’t manage his personal habits.
This holds true even if the boss claims he was seduced. It’s his job to say no and to move the employee, elsewhere. However, I would be quietly checking her out for any history.
As you can guess, this workplace where both sexes have a right to operate in a safe, healthy culture, it can get pretty complicated. Sensitivity/ harassment classes should require attendance by all employees.
But for reported transgressions, nothing short of a comprehensive investigation is required. This should also be true of the US Congress.
There are no easy, one size fits all solutions to these kind of problems.
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