Democratic senators call on Franken to step down

WASHINGTON — A U.S. senator from Ohio wants Sen. Al Franken, who is facing allegations from women that he harassed them or engaged in sexual misconduct, to resign.

“I have listened to them. I have listened to my female colleagues, to women I work with and women in my life,” Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said. “And I agree the time has come for Senator Franken to step aside.”

Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, was first accused by Leeann Tweeden, a radio broadcaster in Los Angeles, who said he forcibly kissed her and groped her breasts at a USO show. Franken posed for a picture of the act.

Since then other women have come forward.

“We have a serious problem in this country with sexual harassment and assault — in Congress, in Hollywood, in business, in the military — everywhere. I am grateful to the victims who have had the bravery to come forward,” Brown said in a statement. “Their courage has created a movement that is bringing about change.”

Brown said the Senate Ethics Committee should continue its investigation.

“And their findings will be important to informing changes that are needed in Congress,” Brown said. “To that end, I am also signing on to Senator Gillibrand’s bill to reform the way Congress deals with complaints. Congress should be held to the highest standards.”

The statement comes the day after Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., also accused of sexual misconduct, said he was resigning after Democratic Party leaders urged him to resign.

National media outlets have reported Franken plans to make a statement today.

Also on Wednesday, at least a half dozen women senators called on Franken to resign: Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Patty Murray of Washington issued statements around the same time.

“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,” Gillibrand said.

The change in culture is long overdue, Hassan said.

“It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women,” she said. “He should resign.”