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Sen. Sherrod Brown calls on Sen. Franken to resign

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    Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Congress-Sexual-Misconduct-Franken

    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) said Wednesday that his Democratic colleague Al Franken of Minnesota should resign, following complaints of sexual harassment.

“I agree the time has come for Senator Franken to step aside,” Mr. Brown said in a telephone news conference.

He said he is signing onto a bill by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) to combat sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

“As elected officials we should be held to the highest standards, not the lowest,” Mr. Brown said.

He said he came to his conclusion by listening to female colleagues and the women in his life. He said he did not speak with Senator Franken but had his staff inform Senator Franken’s staff.

“I’ve listened to women who’ve talked about other cases,” he said, mentioning Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama, newly resigned Michigan Congressman John Conyers, and President Donald Trump, all of whom have been assailed by charges of inappropriate sexual behavior.

“I want to hear what they say and I think this society is finally willing to address this terrible problem,” Mr. Brown said.

Even though he wants Mr. Franken to resign, Mr. Brown said the Senate Ethics Committee investigation should go forward to find out what happened and to recommend solutions.

Mr. Brown joins a growing number of his female Democratic colleagues to request the investigation, and was one of two male senators to do so, along with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

The calls came as another woman accused Mr. Franken of sexual misconduct in an account to Politico.

“I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” Ms. Gillibrand said.

The demands came in rapid succession after Mr. Franken on Wednesday vehemently denied a new sexual misconduct accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide. She said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The Minnesota Democrat said in a statement that the allegation, reported by Politico, was “categorically not true.”

The woman, who was not identified by name, said Mr. Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings. She said she ducked to avoid his lips, and that Mr. Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

Mr. Franken, in his statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right as an entertainer was “preposterous.”

But the tide quickly turned against Mr. Franken Wednesday morning. Fellow Democrats had previously been cautious and respected Mr. Franken’s right to cooperate with an ethics probe. But the steady stream of allegations has female Democrats fed up.

“I’m shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior,” Ms. Murray said. “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.”

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D. (N.Y.), had no immediate comment.

Mr. Franken already faced a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped them or sought to forcibly kiss them.

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous,” Mr. Franken said. “I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

The allegations against Mr. Franken began in mid-November when Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour.

Several other allegations have followed, including a woman who says that Mr. Franken put his hand on her buttocks during a picture pose at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two women, who asked to remain anonymous, have told the Huffington Post that Mr. Franken squeezed their buttocks at political events during his first campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth woman, an Army veteran, alleged Mr. Franken cupped her breast during a photo op on a USO tour in 2003.

Mr. Franken has apologized for his behavior but he has disputed some of the allegations.

Information from The Blade’s news services was used in this report.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com419-724-6058, or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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