Once someone is accused of sexual misconduct, there are a series of important questions that immediately follow, including the number of accusers.
In Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) case, Leeann Tweeden, a radio news anchor with KABC in Los Angeles, came forward last week with accusations stemming from a USO show in 2006. Franken has apologized – Tweeden has said she accepts the apology – and at least initially, no one else made similar accusations. On the contrary, several women who worked with Franken in his Senate office issued a joint statement praising him for his professionalism.
Today, however, the story changed.
A new woman has come forward with an allegation against Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., days after a radio host accused the lawmaker of forcibly kissing and groping her more than a decade ago.
Lindsay Menz, 33, told CNN in an interview that Franken grabbed her buttocks when they posed for a photo together in 2010. The accusation was first reported by CNN. Menz also appears to have tweeted about the encounter several days ago.
Menz said she met Franken at the Minnesota State Fair seven years ago with her husband and father and asked for a photo with the lawmaker.
The woman said that while she and the senator posed for a photo, Franken “put his hand full-fledged on my rear.” She added, “It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”
In a response, Franken said yesterday, “I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture. I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
At least for now, it’s difficult to say how this changes the political calculus for the Minnesota Democrat. The Senate is not in session this week, and as best as I can tell, none of Franken’s colleagues have issued new statements today calling on his ouster.
That said, this incident, unlike Tweeden’s, occurred after Franken’s election. If the Senate Ethics Committee moves forward with its investigation – a probe that Franken has endorsed and agreed to assist – it may therefore be treated differently.
As for the photograph, while the image of Franken and a sleeping Tweeden was instantly scandalous, CNN published the photo of Franken and Lindsay Menz, and at first blush, it appears unremarkable.