Washington Sen. Patty Murray and six of her female colleagues in the Senate are calling on Sen. Al Franken to resign amid allegations of groping and other inappropriate contact. In a statement, Murray said:
I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior. It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time.
It’s time for him to step aside.
For some time I have talked about returning the word respect to our language, to our actions, and to our politics. That has to start at the top. We must lead by example. Respecting women as equals and not as objects is a critical part of that. Sexual harassment, or assault, or in any way using your power to demean women cannot be tolerated. I want my colleagues, my staff, my constituents, and especially my granddaughters to know that is not acceptable.
This institution has evolved over centuries, it’s evolved over my nearly three decades of service, and it’s evolving once more before our very eyes. This current evolution is long overdue. It’s time for us as elected representatives to hold ourselves to a higher standard, to set an example, and to live a set of values that is truly representative and worthy of the Congress, our democracy, and our great country.
To truly accomplish that we must agree that there is no place for discrimination or harassment in the government. We cannot pick and choose based on political party or friendship who we call out. It pains me that in this case it is someone who I think has been a tremendous voice for our party. But that makes it even more imperative that we don’t tolerate this behavior. We cannot allow it to be ok. Or we own the silence women will once again be delegated to.
Be they political friends or foes, we must call out those who would seek to sweep under the rug behavior that should never be accepted in any family or community. And if we’re serious about that, there’s no way we can condone those who inappropriately touch others, those who force themselves on women of all ages, or those would take their power and weaponize it for their own ends. For those who are tempted to politicize this issue, or try to protect anyone who has crossed the line into an unacceptable place, I would suggest that they speak first with their mom, wife, sister, daughter, or friend, and ask about their own experiences. Find out how pervasive the culture of abuse, silence, and acceptance is. Find out how power is used to abuse. Find out just how hard it is to speak out. And then, rather than justifying one person’s behavior for your own political purposes, join me and so many others in making clear that we will not accept it—regardless of party, position, or celebrity.
I believe service in politics and government is a noble pursuit, and all those who pursue it are flawed in some way. But I also believe public service demands higher standards – standards we choose to live by the moment we enter public life. And some actions should disqualify you from service, and they should disqualify you as a representative of all the people in a district, state, or even in the entire country.
Murray, who was first elected in 1991, is the highest ranking woman in the Senate and part of the Democratic leadership. She is joined in calling for Franken to step down by Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Kamala Harris of California, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. Several male senators have also called for Franken's resignation, including Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating the allegations against Franken. The first was made by Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio news host, who says Franken groped and forcibly kissed her during an overseas USO tour in 2006, before he was elected to Senate. More women came forward with allegations after that.