A raft of Democratic senators called on Sen. Al Franken to resign on Wednesday. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was the first to issue a statement early in the morning, followed in quick succession by statements from six other women senators including Sens. Kamala Harris, Claire McCaskill, Patty Murray, Mazie Hirono, Tammy Baldwin and Maggie Hassan.
Franken has been accused by seven women of groping and inappropriate sexual touching in recent weeks. The latest accusation came this morning from a woman who said Franken forcibly kissed her in 2006.
Today marks a drastic shift in tone from Democrats, who were previously calling for an ethics investigation to decide Franken’s fate.
“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, 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,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in her statement on Facebook this morning.
By early afternoon on Wednesday, many more senators had joined the call for Franken’s resignation. Sens. Dick Durbin, Debbie Stabenow, Heidi Heitkamp, Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown, Joe Donnelly, Michael Bennet, Edward Markey, Maria Cantwell, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, Martin Heinrich, Jeff Merkley, Tom Carper, Ron Wyden, Tom Udall, Bernie Sanders, Angus King had all put forth statements.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez also joined the chorus of those calling on the Minnesota senator to resign.
Pressure has been mounting on Democrats to take a harsher stance toward allegations of misconduct by their own members because of the controversial Alabama Senate race. Republican Judge Roy Moore has refused to drop out of the race despite multiple allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted teenage girls. It is politically important that as Democrats express their outrage over Moore, they do not apply a double standard to their own party’s members.
Franken has announced that he will address the public on Thursday.