ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - In the wake of sexual harassment claims regarding two Minnesota lawmakers at the State Capitol, Minnesota politicians are reacting to the allegations of sexual harassment against Senator Al Franken.
Leeann Tweeden, morning news anchor on TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles, says she was “kissed and groped” by Franken during a USO Tour trip to the Middle East in December 2006. She also posted a photo which showed Franken apparently groping her while she was asleep on the tour.
"That picture is no joke,” said Rep. Joyce Peppin, House Majority Leader. “It's never funny when somebody touches you or it's unwanted, or says something to you that is unwanted."
"I find it pretty troubling, the photo is pretty troubling when you see it,” said Rep. Kurt Daudt, House Speaker. “And to say that sexual harassment is a joke trivializes what is a crime and trivializes victims. And I find that deeply troubling. And I think that's part of the problem. We can't call sexual harassment a joke."
The Legislature is wrapped in its own controversy. The Governor has called on Sen. Dan Schoen to resign after allegations of sexual harassment. He denies the accusations and has hired an attorney to fight a possible ethics investigation. Rep. Erin Maye Quade has also leveled accusations against Rep. Tony Cornish, alleging he sent inappropriate text messages. Cornish says they were misunderstood.
Lawmakers say hearing the accusations against Sen. Franken is just as startling.
"I've always been concerned that there is another shoe that's going to drop, and I've a little surprised it's Sen. Franken,” said Sen. Tom Bakk, Senate Minority Leader. “I've known him and his wife very well. There's obviously a cultural problem, and you know it's not unique to the Legislature."
"Incredible disappointment and I don't want to go farther than that because there is a due process that you have to have,” said Sen. Paul Gazelka, Senate Majority Leader. “And everyone one of these cases has its own merits, but anything that is true is unbelievably unacceptable and we should all stand against."