Al Franken tried to force a kiss on a former Democratic congressional aide in 2006, Politico reported Tuesday. The aide, whose name Politico is not releasing due to privacy concerns, is the seventh woman to accuse Franken of sexual harassment, including groping.
At the time, Franken was not yet a Minnesota senator but was working as a radio show host. The woman attended a taping of his show, and as she turned to leave, she said, she had to suddenly duck to avoid a kiss from Franken.
“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’” the woman recalled. “But I knew whatever was happening was not right, and I ducked. I was really startled by it, and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’”
Sen. Franken, a Democrat, told Politico in a statement that the woman’s story was “categorically not true.”
“The idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation,” Franken said. Franken is currently facing an investigation from the Senate Ethics Committee.
When interviewed by Politico, two of the woman’s former colleagues backed up her story; they even recalled the woman telling them about how Franken called the kiss “my right as an entertainer.”
Franken was first accused of sexual harassment in November, when radio host Leeann Tweeden published a 2006 photo of Franken groping her as she slept and said he forcibly kissed her. The incident happened on a USO tour where the two had performed together.
Franken apologized after Tweeden came forward but said he remembered his actions “differently.”
Several other congressional lawmakers are also currently facing accusations of sexual harassment. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, abruptly retired Monday, after it was revealed last week that he’d settled a wrongful termination complaint in 2015 against a former staffer who said she was fired after enduring years of sexual harassment.