Texas woman tells CNN that Sen. Franken inappropriately touched her at State Fair
ST. PAUL — One moment at Minnesota's Great Get Together was not so great, a woman says about her photograph with U.S. Sen. Al Franken.
Franken's hand “was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek" as her husband snapped a photo, Lindsay Menz said.
"Like ew, I want to wash that off of me." Menz told CNN for a story that ran Monday, Nov. 20.
The former Minnesotan, now 33, said the incident occurred at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair.
Menz, who now lives in Texas, said on Twitter: "In August 2010, @alfranken grabbed me while taking a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair. I felt violated & embarrassed."
Tweeting to radio host Leeann Tweeden, she added: "I 100% believe your account of him & his actions, ... Thank you for sharing your story."
Tweeten said on Thursday, Nov. 16, that Franken forced a kiss on her during a 2006 USO tour, and she posted online a photograph showing Franken's hands above her breasts as she slept on a military airplane during the same trip.
The Tweeden incident occurred before the Minnesota Democrat became senator, but the State Fair allegation was a year after he took office.
Franken's office did not respond to a Forum News Service request for comment on the second incident and about whether he was considering resigning. However, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the office said over the weekend, before the Menz story aired, that he would not quit the Senate.
Franken apologized to Tweeden Thursday and CNN reported on Monday that he said he did not remember the fair incident.
"I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture," Franken said. "I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."
Indeed, Franken's booth often has the longest lines of any political booth at the fair, most people wanting to get a picture with him.
Menz said her photo with the senator came at a radio station booth, which her father's business helped sponsor.
While Menz told family members about the incident and posted about it on her Facebook site, which has restricted access, she did not say anything in public until she went to CNN.
Menz said she hopes that telling about her experience will give others "the courage to say something, too."
Menz' Twitter account says she lived in Minneapolis. Now, she lives in Texas.
Since Tweeden made her story public last week, some people have called for Franken to resign. He said last week that he supports a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the Tweeden allegations.
Franken did not deny any of the Tweeden allegations, but he said he did not recall the rehearsal kiss like she did and did not recall the Menz situation at all.
In an October tweet, Franken said: "Sexual harassment and violence are unacceptable. We all must do our part to listen, stand with and support survivors."
In other developments:
- Franken canceled a Monday book festival appearance Atlanta. He was to promote his latest book, "Al Franken, Giant of the Senate."
- The Public Broadcasting Service mostly edited Franken out of of Monday night's recorded show honoring talk show host David Letterman. Franken only was seen at the end when many guests joined Letterman on stage. "PBS and WETA, the producing station, felt that the inclusion of Sen. Franken in the broadcast at this time would distract from the show’s purpose as a celebration of American humor," the network said in a statement.
- A script for a USO performance that Franken worked on called for “Dr. Al Franken” to perform a “breast exam” on stage before cheering American soldiers, according to Franken’s own reading of the script and a video of one of the performances. The 2003 performance also included a moment where, Franken said, “I just grabbed her and kissed her, and she fights me off.”
- Franken's former television show, "Saturday Night Live," made fun of his problems last weekend, but nothing in depth. "I know this photo looks bad, but it also is bad," Colin Jost said on the Weekend Update segment in front of the photo of Franken's hands over Tweeden's chest. "I know this photo was taken before he ran for public office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school."
- The Washington Post reported that "Saturday Night Live" frequently featured jokes disparaging women. "The SNL writers' room is famously collaborative, so it's hard to know how many such bits Franken specifically wrote," the Post reported. "But as a writer ... he undoubtedly influenced the zeitgeist of the show during that era."