Sen. Al Franken says he’ll “gladly cooperate” with an ethics investigation after model and radio host Leeann Tweeden accused him of groping her and kissing her without consent while on a USO Tour in 2006.
“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women,” said Franken in his statement. “There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing — and if its the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine — is: I’m sorry.”
Franken added: “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”
Tweeden said the former “Saturday Night Live” star forced his tongue down her throat when they were rehearsing a skit he wrote for the troops. On the way back from the Middle East, Tweeden added she was groped by Franken while she was sleeping on the plane — and included a picture in her blog post.
Franken’s statement comes on the heels of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for an ethics committee to investigate the Democratic senator from Minnesota.
“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this,” McConnell said on Thursday shortly after the accusation came to light. “Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”
Read Franken’s full statement below:
“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing — and if its the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine — is: I’m sorry.
I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us — including and especially meant who respect women — have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. IT isn’t funny. Its completely inappropriate. Its obvious how Leeann would feel violate by it — women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experience, women who look up to me, women who had counted on me.
Coming form the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. Its the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry its taken me so long to come to terms with that.
While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.
I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”